A delegation from the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF), accompanied by a number of press groups, staged a demonstration outside Istanbul’s Metris Prison on June 24, demanding the release of the RSF Turkey representative.
Erol Önderoğlu was arrested on terror charges on June 20 along with two other press freedom campaigners.
RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire described the arrest of Önderoğlu, journalist
Ahmet Nesin, and Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) President Şebnem Fincancı as “illegitimate” and “an attempt by the authorities to intimate journalists,” the Associated Press reported.
Deloire said the arrest threatened the freedom not only of the trio, but all Turkish citizens.
Meanwhile, the head of the Vienna-based International Press Institute’s (IPI) Turkey National Committee Kadri Gürsel said the three were unjustly under arrest and should be immediately released.
Gürsel also read out letters penned by Önderoğlu and Nesin from prison.
“Turkey has persecuted its journalists and opposition members under different regimes, but in recent years this persecution has broadened and now affects all sectors that are not part of the government. What we have been able to see in Metris prison is that all our colleagues, lawyers and activists who have faith in democracy, media freedom and freedom of expression and opinion can act together in an effective manner,” Önderoğlu said in the letter, vowing to continue their fight for rights.
The demonstration in front of Metris Prison saw the participation of the Turkish Journalists’ Union (TGS), the Platform for Independent Journalism (P24), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN), the European Judicial Network (EJN), Amnesty International, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX).
An Istanbul court charged Önderoğlu, Nesin and Fincancı with “making terror propaganda” on June 20 after they served as editors-in-chief of Özgür Gündem for one day as part of the daily’s “Editor-in-chief on Duty” campaign.