Imprisoned Turkish journalist Ahmet Şık’s wife Yonca Şık has harshly criticised the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and accused the court of causing unlawfulness to be reproduced in Turkey, according to a report by Bianet.
Yonca Şık, whose husband Ahmet Şık has been in jail for 291 days, has spoken following a panel she attended at Frankfurt Book Fair about ECtHR practices. Slamming ECtHR for granting Turkey an extension of time until October 23 for submitting a defense on imprisoned staff of Cumhuriyet daily, Yonca Şık has stated that “We are speaking about personal rights and freedoms here. The ECtHR acting like there is rule of law in Turkey and has caused the unlawfulness to be reproduced in the country.”
Turkish government was supposed to submit a defense to the ECtHR for the Cumhuriyet detainees until October 3. However, Turkey wanted to extend the time for six weeks and the ECtHR granted three more weeks until October 23. Thus the ECtHR has granted 19 weeks for Turkey in total as the journalists are in jail.
The critical Cumhuriyet daily has long been a target for Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government. An İstanbul court on Sept. 25 ruled for the release of Cumhuriyet daily journalist Kadri Gürsel and for the continuation of pretrial detention for four other journalists. The trial was adjourned until Oct. 31.
The charges brought against 17 Cumhuriyet employees in an April indictment accuse them of aiding the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) and the Gülen movement. Earlier in July, the court released Güray Öz, Musa Kart, Bülent Utku, Hakan Kara, Önder Çelik, Turhan Günay and Mustafa Kemal Güngör and continued the pretrial detention of Akın Atalay, Murat Sabuncu, Kadri Gürsel, Ahmet Şık and Emre İper.
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has showed that 259 journalists and media workers are now in jails as of October 17, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 235 are arrested pending trial, only 24 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 133 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.
The government also closed down more than 180 media outlets since the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.