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EFJ, IFJ express strong concerns about judicial harassment of journalists in Turkey

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The European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ-IFJ) in a statement on Wednesday expressed strong concerns about the judicial harassment in Turkey of journalists and media workers detained for allegedly “being member” or “doing propaganda on behalf of an illegal organization.”

Around 200 journalists are behind bars in Turkey due to their critical views of the government.

In its statement, the EFJ-IFJ said it had received a detailed report about “the critical situation of the young, 27, female Turkish journalist and law student Ayşenur Parıldak,” under arrest for more than nine months, released by a court on May 2 and immediately re-arrested the same day with new charges related to her work as a journalist.

Parıldak, a former reporter for the now-closed Zaman daily, is among dozens of journalists jailed after a failed military coup attempt in Turkey on July 15. She 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.

EFJ-IFJ also referred to other journalists who have been subjected to judicial harassment in Turkey due to their journalistic work.

“Similarly mid-April 2017, 12 journalists (Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Yakup Çetin, Bünyamin Köseli, Cihan Acar, Abdullah Kılıç, Oğuz Usluer, Atilla Taş, Hüseyin Aydın, Murat Aksoy, Mustafa Erkan, Seyit Kılıç and Yetkin Yıldız) arrested on 30 August 2016 for being member of an illegal terrorist organization  were released mid-April 2017 by a court in İstanbul and immediately re-arrested on charges of “trying to topple the constitutional order and the Turkish government” based on the same facts.”

“In April 2017 in the city of Nusaybin, female journalist Meltem Oktay working for DIHA news agency was detained for reporting under the state of emergency, released by a court decision in Mardin and re-arrested immediately on charges of “doing propaganda” by another court in Edirne.”

“Also in the same month in the city of Antalya, five arrested journalists (out of eight) were released by a court and re-arrested immediately by another court decision with other charges based on the same facts.”

EFJ-IFJ said in various cases, even the judges ordering the release of journalists were prosecuted and suspended for taking these decisions, which raised questions about the access to a fair trial for detainees.

“We call on the Turkish authorities to stop the judicial harassment against journalists and media workers and stop misusing anti-terror legislations to maintain professional journalists in detention for evolving charges. We will report these cases to the Council of Europe’s platform for the protection and safety of journalists,” said EFJ-IFJ in its statement.

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