International press body alarmed over Ergenekon’s journalist imprisonments
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
A protester runs to throw a tear gas canister back during clashes with riot police as they try to march to a courthouse in Silivri, where a hearing on people charged with attempting to overthrow Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan's government took place, August 5, 2013. REUTERS/Osman OrsalThe International Press Institute (IPI) expressed concern over the Turkish journalists sentenced to prison terms in the Ergenekon trial, calling on authorities to release them pending appeals, according to an official statement released by the organization.
The recent trials show that the journalists suspected in Ergenekon, who have already spent a long time behind bars, “were detained in retaliation for their work,” according to IPI executive director Alison Bethel McKenzie.
“We have long feared that many of the journalists in Turkish prisons were detained in retaliation for their work, a conclusion that appears bolstered here by the numerous, troubling accusations of due process violations in this case. Given that most of these journalists have already spent years behind bars in connection with these allegations, we urge authorities to release them pending appeals that we anticipate they will file,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie added that previous promises made by Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç with regards to a new judicial package that would address press freedom never came through.
“That package, ultimately, made little progress in that regard, and we urge Turkish lawmakers to enact reforms to ensure that critical reporting on matters of public interest is not conflated with terrorism and that any new Constitution safeguards press freedom and freedom of expression,” McKenzie said.
Journalists currently in jail for Ergenekon charges include Mustafa Balbay, Tuncay Özkan and Hikmet Çiçek, with Balbay and Çiçek receiving 34 and 21 years respectively and Özkan being sentenced to life in prison.