Papandreou voices concern over media freedom in Turkey
Fırat Alkaç - ISTANBUL
DHA PhotoSocialist International President George Papandreou visited daily Cumhuriyet’s office in Istanbul on Dec. 20, voicing his concern over the state of media freedom in Turkey while also expressing his support for Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, two prominent journalists for the newspaper who are currently in prison pending trial on charges of “aiding terrorist organizations.”
“We are very concerned about the freedom of the press [in Turkey]. Freedom of the press is indispensable for democracies, as it protects people’s right to information and to control the powers of the government,” Papandreou said, while speaking to reporters in front of Cumhuriyet’s building.
He also said institutions and governments should serve the citizens.
“I came here to show solidarity, to contribute to the struggle for an open society, freedom of the press and democracy in Turkey. I struggled for a free press in my country when I was young. It should be known that this is the citizens’ fundamental right,” he added.
Socialist International deputy head Umut Oran, who is also a Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker, accompanied Papandreou during his visit.
Meanwhile, a group of Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) members marched down Istanbul’s İstiklal Avenue on Dec. 20 to protest the arrests of Dündar and Gül.
Dündar, Cumhuriyet’s editor-in-chief, and Gül, the newspaper’s Ankara bureau chief, were arrested on Nov. 26 on charges of aiding an armed terrorist organization and committing political or military espionage over reports in Cumhuriyet on the interception of trucks belonging to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT).
The articles claimed the trucks intercepted in January 2014 were shipping weapons to jihadist groups fighting across the border in Syria.
The imprisonment of Dündar and Gül created an outcry inside and outside Turkey, with leading international press organizations submitting an alert on the state of media freedom in Turkey to the Council of Europe on Nov. 26.