Hürriyet’s New York correspondent briefly detained in Istanbul
ISTANBULHürriyet’s New York and United Nations correspondent Razi Canikligil was briefly detained on the morning of June 21 after he was detained upon arrival at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport.
Canikligil arrived in Istanbul from Paris for a vacation with his family at around 8:40 p.m. on June 20. Police detained him as he was passing through passport control.
A local court in Ankara had issued an arrest warrant for Canikligil in 2015 over his social media posts after a complaint from Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) head Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, but the prosecutor’s office decided not to prosecute him.
Canikligil was later released after he testified to a prosecutor. Hürriyet editor-in-chief Sedat Ergin also went to the courtroom in Istanbul’s Bakırköy district and addressed reporters with Canikligil and his lawyer, Eren Mustafa Şener, following the correspondent’s release.
“Rifat [Hisarcıklıoğlu] complained about a Twitter post that has nothing to do with us, and that as far as we can understand was shared by a completely different person,” Şener told reporters.
“In his complaint petition, he included a clause saying ‘this person might be Razi Canikligil,’” he added, stating that the public prosecutor’s office had failed to designate the correct person and instead issued an arrest warrant for Canikligil at the end of an “unethical and wrongful” process.
“[Canikligil] is a well-known figure. He can be reached through a little research. To treat him like a regular fugitive is neither ethical nor legal,” Şener also said.
Speaking after his lawyer, Canikligil said he has been working in daily Hürriyet’s New York bureau for 26 years and is now thinking about how to explain this situation to his colleagues in the U.S.
“This is the first time I have heard of anything like ‘may be’ [referring to the clause added by Hisarcıklıoğlu that he may be the suspect]. How will I explain to my colleagues in the United States: ‘This person may be [the suspect], apprehend him, arrest him’?” he said, adding that he is still “in shock” after spending 14 hours in custody.
Ergin also harshly criticized the decision to detain Canikligil based on a “suspicion,” saying detention is only possible if there is “strong suspicion,” according to Turkish and international law.
“He [Canikligil] was denied his freedom for 14 hours due to a mere possibility,” he said, describing the situation as a “serious rights violation.”
“You could see this as a legal comedy or a legal drama. I tend to see it as the latter,” Ergin added.
The United Nations Correspondent Association (UNCA) also condemned Canikligil’s detention in a statement.
“Our UNCA member and colleague from the Turkish media Hurriyet, Razi Canikligil, was detained today in Istanbul by Turkish police. We are told he is accused based on articles and tweets he wrote about the Turkish authorities. The UNCA considers this a grave violation of freedom of the press,” the statement said.