Press organizations condemn ‘extraordinary attack on press freedom’ in Turkey
ISTANBUL – Doğan News AgencyFourteen leading international press freedom and freedom of expression organizations have condemned the detention of executives and journalists of Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, describing it as an “extraordinary attack on press freedom.”
Police launched a broad operation against Cumhuriyet on Nov. 1, arresting over a dozen journalists, managers and lawyers, including editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu and columnist Kadri Gürsel, a member of the International Press Institute’s (IPI) global executive board.
The organizations said they were “deeply disturbed” by the attack both against “a highly respected newspaper that remains one of Turkey’s last sources of critical news and information and a representative of a major international human rights organization.”
The organizations called on Turkey to immediately release the detained Cumhuriyet journalists, as well as the more than 130 other journalists currently behind bars “for exercising their right to freedom of expression” in the country.
In copies of the open letter addressed to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, as well as foreign embassies and consulates in Ankara and Istanbul, the group made an urgent request to discuss its concerns in person.
“We are deeply disturbed by this move against not only a highly respected newspaper that remains one of Turkey’s last sources of critical news and information but also a representative of a major international human rights organization. We are also extremely concerned that those detained are being held without access to legal counsel and without a clear indictment against them,” the open letter read.
“We condemn these arrests and closures as an extraordinary attack on press freedom, freedom of expression and the journalistic profession – unfortunately merely the latest example of such in Turkey. Our organizations stand in solidarity with Mr. Sabuncu, Mr. Gürsel and their colleagues, as do journalists around the world,” the letter added.
The open letter is signed by the International Press Institute (IPI), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), ARTICLE 19, Index on Censorship, the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN), PEN International, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), IFEX, the Association of European Journalists (AEJ), and the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF).