Judicial double standards for journalists in Turkey, European NGO says
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey is the world’s top jailer of journalists, ahead of China and Iran.The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has raised concerns about judicial double standards in the trials of journalists in Turkey in a statement released via its website on March 21.
The lawyers of Füsun Erdoğan, Bayram Namaz and Arif Çelebi, on trial in the illegal Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLPK) case, appealed for the journalists to be released based on the recent examples in separate judiciary cases, such as the Ergenekon, and Balyoz coup plot cases and OdaTV trials, but their requests were rejected.
Last November, after more than seven years in jail, Erdoğan, Namaz and Çelebi were sentenced to a total of 789 years in prison for 155 alleged crimes by a specially authorized court in Turkey.
However, the Turkish government has taken the decision to abolish the decisions of specially authorized courts in the Ergenekon, Balyoz and OdaTV trials and has made the maximum period for detention five years with a legal amendment. As a result, all the journalists imprisoned in the Ergenekon case have been freed.
The lawyers of the three journalists appealed for their release because they have already served five years, but this was rejected by the Court of Appeals because it considered that, at the time of the
verdict, the maximum detention period was ten years, said the EFJ.
“This is a clear case of double standards in the legal system in Turkey,” said EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Guitierrez. “In the Ergenekon case the maximum sentence was also ten years and this ruling was overturned. How is this case any different? We call for the judicial system in Turkey to be treated equally and fairly and for the Court of Appeal to overturn its decision and release the journalists Füsun Erdoğan, Bayram Namaz and Arif Çelebi,” Guitierrez added.
The court ruled an enforced life sentence against seven people, including Özgür Radyo broadcast coordinator Füsün Erdoğan and Atılım newspaper columnist Bayram Namaz on the grounds they attempted to change the constitution of the country in the Marxist-Leninst Communist Party (MLKP) case.
Turkey is the world’s top jailer of journalists, according to press freedom lobby group the Committee to Protect Journalists.