Two journalists and one human rights activist were arrested on June 20 after supporting a campaign in solidarity with Turkish daily Özgür Gündem, which was started on World Press Freedom Day.
An Istanbul court ordered the arrest of Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) head Prof. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey representative Erol Önderoğlu, and journalist
Ahmet Nesin, on charges of “making terror propaganda” when they served as the editors-in-chief of Özgür Gündem for one day as a part of the daily’s “Editor-in-chief on Duty” campaign.
Özgür Gündem has been repeatedly closed down in the past and is seen as being close to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party
Journalist Cengiz Boysoy, writer İhsan Eliaçık and academic Beyza Üstün were also called to testify to a terror and organized crimes prosecutor at Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse.
Financı said reports during her one day of service as editor-in-chief came within the context of freedom of thought and freedom of expression.
However, the court ordered the pre-trial arrest of her along with Önderoğlu and Nesin.
A total of 44 prominent journalists - including Hasan Cemal, Şeyhmus Diken, Tuğrul Eryılmaz and Ayşe Düzkan - served as one-day editors-in-chief during the campaign. Some 37 of them have been investigated up to now.
Özgür Gündem started the campaign on May 3 to provide solidarity and defend press freedom against a number of investigations it has faced.
Meanwhile, the European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ-IFJ) condemned the arrest, calling it “unacceptable” and urging the government to immediately release the journalists.
“Showing solidarity by working as journalist
or editor-in-chief cannot be considered terror propaganda. The Turkish authorities are clearly misusing the legislation to silence critics and human rights defenders. Those people arrested must immediately be released. Turkey is working against itself by jailing press freedom activitists,” EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregard said.