RSF urges Turkey to free French journalist arrested on terrorism charge

French journalist Loup Bureau

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called on the Turkish government on Thursday to immediately release French freelance reporter Loup Bureau, who was jailed by a court on Tuesday, accusing him of aiding and supporting a terrorist organization.

Bureau was detained on July 26 near the Iraqi border, while he was preparing a report on the Kurdish issue and what life is like for the local population. He was arrested on Tuesday for aiding and supporting the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and taken to a prison in Şırnak province.

In a press release on Thursday, RSF said Turkey nowadays often charges journalists with terrorism-related activities.

According to the press release, RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk head Johann Bihr called for the immediate release of Bureau and said: “We are extremely concerned about his imprisonment and the serious charges brought against him. He is just a journalist. We hope that the Turkish investigators will soon recognize this.”

 

Twenty-seven-year-old Bureau is an award-winning reporter for covering world hotspots including Egypt, Ukraine, Pakistan and Turkey’s borders with Syria and Iraq.

Meşale Tolu

Meanwhile, an indictment seeking up to 15 years in prison for German-Turkish journalist Meşale Tolu on charges of disseminating the propaganda of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has been accepted by the İstanbul 29th High Criminal Court, the Etkin news agency (ETHA) reported on Friday.

ETHA reporter and translator Tolu, who has been in pretrial detention since April 30, was accused of PKK membership and propaganda. The statements by a secret witness said Tolu was part of an organization working on behalf of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) and that she attended protests staged by the Socialist Women Councils (SKM).

Tolu is accused of attending a march in Kadıköy in 2014 organized to commemorate Suphi Nejat Ağırnaslı, who lost his life fighting against the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Kurdish town of Kobani, paying condolences to MLKP member Ivana Hoffman who died in Syria, attending a protest against corruption organized by the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) in 2014 in Kadıköy and attending the funerals of MLKP members Yeliz Erbay and Şirin Öter.

The indictment claimed two legal Marxist Theory journals were found in Tolu’s house.
The first trial is set to begin on Oct. 11 or 12.

Ankara’s relations with Berlin have been strained since Turkey’s crackdown on opposition groups, including journalists and human rights defenders, after a botched coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has also documented that 272 journalists are now in jails as of July 26, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 248 are arrested pending trial, only 24 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 109 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)

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