The situation of media and freedom of expression in Turkey

To mark the World Press Freedom Day, the European Parliament with the support of the European Commission is dedicating a conference to the state of media and journalists in Turkey. Under the heading “The situation of media and freedom of expression in Turkey”, the event will bring together media and civil society representatives from Turkey and across the European Union. The event, to be held in the European Parliament in Brussels on 3-4 May, will be opened by the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani. Johannes Hahn, the European Commissioner for the European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations will…

Freedom of expression deteriorates in EU candidate countries, shows EU progress reports

The European Commission published on 17 April 2018 its annual Enlargement Package, including the country reports (formerly known as “progress reports”), assessing the implementation of the European Union’s enlargement policy regarding the accession process of the Western Balkans and Turkey. These country reports shows alarmingly precarious working conditions of journalists as the level of press freedom deteriorates further. In four countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia) no progress has been achieved in the area of press freedom. Issues of attacks on journalists, defamation cases media ownership, lack of funding of the public service broadcasters and self-censorship prevail. Some of…

Turkey: A trial where the ‘crime’ is journalism and the only ‘evidence’ is journalistic activities

Joint Statement on the Cumhuriyet trial: 28 media freedom and freedom of expression organisations call on the institutions of the Council of Europe and its member states to remind Turkey of its international obligation to respect and protect human rights. We, the undersigned freedom of expression and human rights organisations, strongly condemn last night’s guilty verdicts for staff and journalists of Cumhuriyet newspaper and note the harsh sentences for the defendants. The verdict further demonstrates that Turkey’s justice system and the rule of law is failing: this was a trial where the ‘crime’ was journalism and the only ‘evidence’ was…

Turkey: Cumhuriyet journalists and executives heavily convicted for changes in “editorial policy”

On Wednesday (25/05/2018), the court in Silivri (Turkey) severely convicted 13 journalists and executives from the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet to jail sentences between two to eight years. The court is convinced that editorial policy changes adopted by the newspaper were aimed at helping multiple illegal terrorist organisations in Turkey. All the defendants have been released pending the confirmation of the jail sentences by the upper court. The judge also ordered the release of Cumhuriyet chairman Akin Atalay who had been in jail for 532 days until yesterday. “As we always say they cannot intimidate Cumhuriyet newspaper which will continue to…

EFJ and press freedom groups condemn Turkey’s seizure of pro-Kurdish daily

The undersigned international press freedom groups and journalists’ organisations, including the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), call on Turkish authorities to immediately release the 12 printworkers and staff arrested on March 28 at the premises and print works of the newspaper Özgürlükçü Demokrasi and the further 15 staff taken into custody after home raids on the morning of March 29, 2018. Authorities must also restore control over the paper and its premises to the rightful owners. The EFJ and the below-named organizations also denounce the fact that lawyers acting for those arrested have been denied contact with prosecutors or access…

New project to promote human rights based journalism in Turkey

“Cumhuriyet, as one of the most important daily newspaper in Turkey, is playing a great inspirational role for all journalists in the world and by putting your own life at risk to tell the truth in the country, you attract more respect and become an example for many of our colleagues and we would like to thank you for that”, said Oliver Money-Kyrle, IFJ Assistant General Secretary during a joint solidarity visit in Istanbul to the former imprisoned journalist Murat Sabuncu (editor in chief of Cumhuriyet). The joint delegation for the solidarity visit included representatives from the International Federation of Journalists…

Turkey should immediately release Mehmet Altan and Şahin Alpay

Turkey should immediately implement the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and release the veteran journalists Mehmet Altan and Şahin Alpay without delay, a coalition of nongovernmental groups said today. Furthermore, Turkey must ensure that domestic remedies for human rights violations are effective, in particular by ensuring the urgent review of all cases of journalists and writers currently pending before its Constitutional Court. The organizations, which had intervened as third parties in the cases before the court, included PEN International, ARTICLE 19, Committee to Protect Journalists, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, European Federation of Journalists,…

Turkey violated rights of journalists Şahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) calls on Turkish authorities to release without any delay all journalists wrongfully imprisoned in Turkey after the European Court of Human Rights ruled today against Turkey on applications filed on behalf of Turkish journalists Şahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan, who were imprisoned following the failed coup attempt in July 2016. The Strasbourg court issued today a decision on the provisional detention of Mehmet Altan and Şahin Alpay for more than a year and a half. The decision stated that “the investigating authorities had been unable to demonstrate any factual basis” that indicate that both journalists…

Turkey: Two Cumhuriyet journalists released, newspaper’s chairman still detained

On Friday 9 March, A Turkish court has released on bail two journalists who were held for over a year on terror-related charges. The editor-in-chief of the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper, Murat Sabuncu, and the investigative reporter, Ahmet Şık, were both released on bail but they remain charged while the chairman of the newspaper, Akin Atalay, was kept in detention. The staff from the newspaper were held as part of the crackdown that followed the failed coup of July 2016.  Based on articles published by the newspaper, Turkish authorities accuse Cumhuriyet of supporting the Gülen movement who Ankara believes headed the coup attempt, as well…

Turkey and the “forgotten” Zaman journalists in jail

On 4 March 2016, five months before the coup attempt of July 2016, one of the biggest daily newspaper was seized by the Turkish authorities on charges of being affiliated with the Gülen movement. Created in 1986, the newspaper was initially a strong supporter of President Erdogan’s AKP until it became increasingly critical and subsequently the movement which it was affiliated with accused of infiltrating the institutions in order to create a “parallel state”. Many journalists and media workers were first quickly sacked without any compensation. Despite being fully managed by government-appointed trustees since March 2016, the newspaper was banned by…

Deniz Yücel released after one year of detention in Turkish prison

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) welcomed the release of Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel, correspondent for the German daily newspaper Die Welt, who spent 366 days in pre-trial detention without indictment. His lawyer, Veysel Ok, confirmed on 16 February that the court in Istanbul ordered Yücel’s release, pending trial. He does not face any ban from leaving the country. On 14 February 2017, Yücel was first taken into custody upon accusations of being a member of a terrorist organisation, spreading propaganda and misusing information and subsequently jailed. His conditions of detention had deteriorated in March 2017, when he was put in…