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Soner Yalçın and the raid on 'odatv.com'

HDN | 2/15/2011 12:00:00 AM | CÜNEYT ÖZDEMİR

If there really is freedom of the press, then a journalist should be treated like a journalist. If you detain every dissident correspondent, the name of your regime is not democracy.

Odatv.com was raided the other day. I founded this website together with Soner Yalçın in 2007. We were old friends and business partners. I say “we were” because after we founded odatv.com, we had differences of opinion. We split in business and shelved our friendship. We have not talked for years. Throughout the years, our political views have changed in almost opposite directions but this doesn’t change the fact that: Yalçın, who is under arrest for the moment, is a journalist. His job is to read and write.

As one of the best intellectuals you can meet, Yalçın is always in second-hand book stores, a bookworm constantly reading, even more than one book at times; a real intellectual also interested in history. During the most problematic periods of Turkey, Yalçın prepared a book on Cem Ersever, the alleged founder of JİTEM, an alleged illegal intelligence unit who was found bound and shot in 1993. You may disagree with him today, you may be disturbed by his worldview; you may criticize his books and dislike what he writes. You might even not like the content of Odatv.com. But you cannot criticize his journalism. That’s where the real problem starts.

If you are raiding the houses and offices of individuals like Yalçın just because you are disturbed by their style of journalism, if you are arresting them, or if you cannot raise objections to similar raids today; in other words, if we are surrounded by mountains of fear, what a pity for all of us! In a democratic country, the strength and size of the opposition is the barometer of the regime.

If you do not like a journalist because of his/her stories, the action you can take in a democratic country is obvious: You go to court and file a suit. But if you’d rather raid his or her house and office, then don’t think that person is the only one in trouble.

What is more dangerous is the emergence of such a fear or perception in a country because for the science of communication there is one reality, and it is the perception.

If there really is freedom of the press in this country, a journalist should be treated like a journalist. If you detain every dissident correspondent, the name of the regime is not democracy but something else. Even if you do not think alike or think in opposite directions or don’t talk to each other for years, the freedom of journalists is the horizon of freedom in a society.

And seems it is sunset now.

* Cüneyt Özdemir is a columnist for daily Radikal, in which this piece appeared Tuesday. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.

 

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