Staff members of Turkey’s public TV broadcaster TRT were briefly detained in the Greek city of Alexandroupolis late Saturday.
According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency (AA), cameraman Ufuk Karagül, reporter Fatih Sabuncu and transportation officer Metin Talu were taken into custody for doing a test stream on the occasion of the second anniversary of Turkey’s controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The trio was released three and a half hours later.
Sabuncu claimed they were detained for no apparent reason and held at the police station without any interrogation. “I worked in many countries, but I have not seen such treatment in the countries you would call the worst in the world. It was regrettable,” Sabuncu said and added that being exposed to such treatment in a European country was shocking.
Correspondents and staff members of TRT and AA are widely perceived as agents of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MİT) abroad since most of them act like agents by chasing and gathering information on dissident figures targeted by the Turkish government led by autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 239 journalists and media workers were in jail as of July 9, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 178 were under arrest pending trial while only 61 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 143 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.
Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.