EP to Turkey: Journalists cannot be jailed and accused of terrorism for doing their job

Leaders of five party groups in the European Parliament (EP) reminded Turkey in a letter to Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Wednesday that the Turkish government is responsible for ensuring freedom of speech and the press in the country and cannot imprison journalists and accuse them of terrorism for simply doing their job.

The letter, which was announced on Wednesday in the EP, was signed by European People’s Party (EPP) leader Manfred Weber, Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) leader Gianni Pitella, European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) leader Syed Kamall, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) leader Guy Verhofstadt and Greens–European Free Alliance (Greens–EFA) members Ska Keller and Philipppe Lamberts.

Addressing Erdoğan and Yıldırım, the EP members said “Journalists must be able to write fearlessly and freely [in Turkey].”

Demanding the release of jailed journalist Deniz Yücel, who works for the German Die Welt newspaper and has been kept in pretrial detention in Turkey since Feb. 27, the EP members said that “a journalist cannot be accused of terrorism and jailed for simply doing his job.”

Yücel, who was detained in Turkey on Feb. 14 as part of an investigation for publishing stories on the leaked emails of President Erdoğan’s son-in-law and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, was arrested by a court on Feb. 27 and sent to Silivri Prison in İstanbul.

Underlining that Turkey is in danger of moving away from European criteria by jailing more than 200 journalists and closing down over 200 media outlets since a failed coup last summer, the EP members also said, “Turkey can only be more powerful with cooperating with the Europe.”

Turkey is the leading jailer of journalists in the world. The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has documented that 263 journalists are now in jails as of June 24, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 239 are arrested pending trial, only 24 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 105 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt. (SCF with turkishminute.com) June 28, 2017

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