13 March 2012
Turkey: Journalists’ Releases Welcomed but Fight for Press Freedom Continues
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today welcomed the release of four jailed
journalists in Turkey but has warned campaigners that efforts must continue in
support of these and other journalists under pressure in the country.
Four journalists, Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık, and OdaTV writers Çoşkun Musluk and Sail Çakır were last night released pending trial in the high-profile OdaTV case.
However, six journalists are still in prison relating to this case, and over 100 are in jail in the country related to a range of alleged offences.
The defendants in the OdaTV trial face allegations of involvement in the Ergenekon affair, an alleged plot by an illegal gang to overthrow the Turkish government.
Şık and Şener presented their defence at the 12 March hearing.
"We welcome the release of these four journalists, who will continue to be tried but without arrest", said Arne König, EFJ President. "This is a small victory on a long road. We urge the government to release all journalists in prison and give them back the freedom they deserve."
At the Monday hearing (12 March) of the OdaTV trial, the Istanbul 16th High Criminal Court decided to release journalists Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık pending trial together with OdaTV writers Çoşkun Musluk and Sait Çakır.
Reports from the Istanbul 16th High Criminal Court suggest that the decision for the defendants' release was based on the "possibility of a change of the quality of crime" and "considering the period of time the defendants remained in detention".
"To silence journalists is to silence the people. It is journalism that is on trial here, and the principle of confidentiality of the news source that is being stamped out," Şık said in court. Şener and Şık were in detention for 375 days.
The EFJ, and its Turkish affiliate the Turkish Union of Journalists (TGS), have played a leading role in the campaign to defend journalists under threat in Turkey.
This press release is also available in French, click here.
For more information contact the EFJ at 32 2 235 2200
The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists in over than 30 countries in Europe.