Rapporteur calls on Turkish authorities to release journalists unless indicted for participating in terrorist activities

Returning from a visit to Ankara and Istanbul (Turkey) on 14 November 2016, Rapporteur Volodymyr Ariev (Ukraine, EPP/CD) on "attacks against journalists and media freedom in Europe" made the following statement:

“For the preparation of my report, I visited Ankara and Istanbul, because most alerts on the Council of Europe Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists are concerning Turkey. I am very grateful for the meetings I had with the Ministry of Justice, the Constitutional Court and media representatives as well as the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Mr David Kaye.

Having heard of the poor prison conditions of several of the detained journalists, I am very concerned by the extensive number of journalists detained for alleged links to terrorist organisations and the closing of various media since 15 July 2016. Moreover, effective judicial review of such acts is hampered at national level by a vast number of cases, numerous recent changes among judges and prosecutors following massive dismissals after the failed coup d’état as well as the fact that executive decrees cannot be reviewed in substance by the Constitutional Court of Turkey.

Considering the extremely difficult situation in Turkey after the failed coup d’état and the continuing threats of terrorist acts, an increasing flow of refugees and the war in neighbouring Syria, I can only emphasise that media freedom is particularly vital to establish public trust in the democratic institutions of Turkey.

Therefore, I appeal to the Turkish authorities to release from detention all journalists who have not been indicted for actively participating in terrorist activities.”