NGO slams gov’t on scribe raid

NGO slams gov’t on scribe raid

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
NGO slams gov’t on scribe raid

A group of journalists and lawyers gathered in front of the police headquarters in Istanbul on Wed., saying that they wouldn’t leave until the investigation is over. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned the Dec. 20 Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) raids that detained up to 29 journalists and slammed the government’s attacks on media freedom in an open letter to the prime minister.

Ongoing media repression in the country has earned Turkey notoriety as one of the world’s worst violators of press freedom while dealing a severe blow to the consolidation of Turkish democracy, the letter said.

The CPJ also rebuffed allegations that it had downplayed the incarceration of journalists in Turkey, as the institute had claimed in an earlier report that only eight journalists had been jailed in the country for their professional activities.

“CPJ’s researchers systematically investigated every one of the estimated 64 journalists in jail in your country on Dec. 1 to determine the reason for their incarceration. While we were able to confirm in eight cases that the charges were related to journalism, we condemn the jailing of every single journalist in Turkey because of pervasive due process violations,” the statement said.

The charges in many cases investigated by the CPJ were found to be unsubstantiated and judicial processes were opaque, said the letter.

Meanwhile, Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy leaders Umut Oran and Gülsün Bilgehan told the Hürriyet Daily News that they were in New York when the CPJ announced their initial report and that they visited their office to tell them that the number was much higher.

“CPJ announced that the number of arrested journalists in Turkey was only eight. However, we told them that the number was higher and the government was actually quoting CPJ to talk about the issue,” Oran said. “While our government criticizes France for limiting freedom of expression, Turkey actually does the same to its own people.”

The CPJ is still conducting further research on the matter and intends to send a delegation to Turkey in 2012 to further review outstanding cases, the letter said.

“We hope that your government will demonstrate its commitment to the transparent application of the law by cooperating with the CPJ delegation,” the letter said.

Meanwhile, 48 people who were taken into custody within the scope of the KCK trials, including a number of journalists, were transferred yesterday to the Istanbul courthouse in Beşiktaş district to testify. The editor of daily Özgür Gündem, Hatice Bozkurt, was reportedly released after an investigation.

Specially authorized Istanbul Chief Prosecutor Bilal Bayraktar and 10 other prosecutors were still questioning other detainees as the Daily News went to print.

The KCK is accused of being the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.