Turkey: Austrian journalist Max Zirngast arrested in Ankara


UPDATE 24.09.2018: On 21 September, Max Zirngast has been formally arrested with the accusation of  being a member in the leftist TKP/Kıvılcım group, which Turkey has banned and considers a terrorist organization.

Austrian journalist Max Zirngast has been detained together with two other Turkish citizens, in the early hours of 11 September by anti-terror authorities in his apartment in Ankara, Turkey. The reason for detention has not been published yet, but according to media reports, he could have been detained on charges of “support for a terrorist organization” and because of his “political publications”. Allegations might be related to his civil and political activism against the Turkish government.

Max Zirngast, a political science student at the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ), was a contributor to a number of left-wing publications, such as Austrian magazine re:volt, US left-wing publication Jacobin, Turkish socialist monthly Toplumsal Özgürlük. He was publishing content often critical to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as well as covering topics of Kurdish affairs. Max Zirngast was also known of being politically active in the election campaign of pro-kurdish HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party).

The European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ-IFJ) supports its affiliate in Austria the Gewerkschaft der Privatangestellten, Druck, Journalismus, Papier (GPA-djp) in demanding the release of Max Zirngast from custody:

“The arrest of the Austrian is not the first case of political arbitrariness of the Turkish government against regime critics. We have been witnessing massive repression of journalists and the media for years. Turkey is moving more and more away from the standards of a free and democratic society,” said  Eike Kullmann, the chairperson of the journalists’ union in the GPA-djp.

Photo credit @ MUSTAFA OZER / AFP