RSF Turkey rep confident ahead of ‘terror’ trial

RSF Turkey rep confident ahead of ‘terror’ trial

RSF Turkey rep confident ahead of ‘terror’ trial

Erol Önderoğlu, the Turkey representative for international rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF). AFP photo

The Turkey representative for Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on July 1 he was “confident” ahead of his trial for “terrorist propaganda” after he guest-edited a pro-Kurdish newspaper.

Erol Önderoğlu was released on June 30 pending his trial, in a case that has stoked concerns about declining media freedom in Turkey.

Rights activist and academic Şebnem Korur Fincancı was freed at the same time, while the third person charged over the case, journalist Ahmet Nesin, left jail on July 1.

All three have been charged in connection with “terror propaganda” after guest-editing pro-Kurdish Turkish newspaper Özgür Gündem.

Prosecutors are seeking sentences of up to 14 and a half years after they took part in the newspaper’s solidarity campaign.

Ankara has been waging a military offensive against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) after a peace process collapsed a year ago.

“I’m confident about my situation,” Önderoğlu told Agence France-Presse, expressing gratitude for an outpouring of support both in Turkey and abroad.

“The courts will have to face up to the facts,” he said.

“I have had nothing to do with any terrorist propaganda. Over 20 years I’ve written thousands of articles, I’ve always supported media freedom and the freedom of journalists of all political persuasions.”

The veteran journalist said the work of Turkish freedom of expression activists had become “risky,” but said they must nonetheless “not give up their fight.”

Önderoğlu’s detention on June 20 triggered international outrage as concerns grow over the pressure on the media. Turkey currently stands in 151st place in RSF’s media freedom ranking of 180 countries.

Önderoğlu said he was due to go on trial in Istanbul on Nov. 11.

Spending a week in Istanbul’s Metris prison and three days in Silivri jail in the suburbs, the journalist said conditions behind bars had been “good.”

“I didn’t expect to be released so quickly,” he added.