The European Union has reacted to the recent re-arrest of 26-year-old Turkish journalist Ayşenur Parıldak after she was released pending trial.
Parıldak, a former reporter from the now-closed Zaman daily who is among dozens of journalists jailed after a failed military coup attempt in Turkey, was released on May 2 but was rearrested by the same court before being freed after a prosecutor objected to the initial ruling.
Responding to a question about Parıldak, an EU official who requested anonymity said on Monday that Turkey has continued to backslide in terms of fundamental freedoms including freedom of expression.
“As also stated in the European Commission’s most recent Turkey report, we witnessed serious backsliding with regard to fundamental values, such as the freedom of expression, independence of the judiciary and the freedom of assembly over the past year, including in the context of measures taken following the coup attempt of 15 July,” the official said.
EU officials said they repeatedly told Turkish authorities that they need to respect democratic standards and practices, including in the area of freedom of expression and the media.
However, there was neither “condemnation” nor “concern” in the EU official’s statement concerning Parıldak’s re-arrest. The EU has been strongly criticized both by human rights and journalist associations for keeping silent vis-à-vis gross human rights violations in acceding candidate country Turkey. The EU has been successfully gagged by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in exchange for keeping migrants in Turkey, these associations say.
Parıldak was arrested on Aug. 11 after spending eight days in detention. She was covering court stories for the Zaman daily and also a student at the law faculty of Ankara University. She was planning to graduate this summer and continue her career as a lawyer because she was fired by the new administration of the paper, which was appointed by the government.
Dozens of journalists were arrested in Turkey following the failed coup attempt on July 15 after which the Turkish government launched a massive witch-hunt of its critics.