OSCE representative slams continuing arrests of journalists in Turkey

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OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic.

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović on Monday condemned the arrest of the editor-in-chief of Turkey’s Cumhuriyet newspaper, Murat Sabuncu, and three of its columnists, Güray Öz, Aydın Engin and Kadri Gürsel.

“This latest wave of arrests of members of the media is yet another blow to media freedom in Turkey,” Mijatović said.

“The authorities should restore media freedom and safeguard a vibrant and pluralistic media landscape in the country, not take measures against it.”

Amid widespread concerns over deteriorating freedom of the press, Turkey on Monday detained 12 journalists from the secularist and critical Cumhuriyet daily following police raids on the journalists’ residences.

The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Monday issued detention warrants for 18 journalists from the daily over charges of aiding the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and FETÖ, a derogatory term and acronym for the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization, coined by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to refer to the Gülen movement, which Erdoğan and the AKP accuse of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15.

According to a recent report from the Contemporary Journalists Association (ÇGD), 118 media outlets in Turkey were closed down, 184 journalists were detained, 56 journalists arrested, 866 journalists fired from their jobs and 620 journalists had their press cards cancelled during the July-September period.

“Anti-terrorism legislation and other legislation currently used to restrict media freedom go far beyond what may be justifiable under a state of emergency, and this worrying trend needs to be reversed immediately,” Mijatović said, recalling that journalists must be able to do their work in a free and safe manner, without fear of being harassed, intimidated, threatened or detained.

Mijatović reiterated her office’s readiness in assisting the authorities in improving media freedom in the country and in implementing Turkey’s media freedom commitments.

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