Press Freedom in Turkey

Arrests of journalists fuel fears that the Erdogan government is intolerant of criticism.

From the Economist:  The arrests of Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener came at a time of growing concern about pressure on the media. Scores of journalists, many of them Kurds, are in jail. The European Union and America say they are worried. Thousands of Turks took to the streets in protest after the arrests. …

Yet even AK’s biggest fans worry that the legitimacy of the Ergenekon case is being dented by heavy-handed tactics such as the arrests of Mr Sik and Mr Sener. Four years after the investigation began there have still been no convictions. Some suspects have yet to be charged. The investigation, say some, has become a mere pretext to round up the government’s critics. Last month police raided the offices of OdaTV, a website, and arrested three journalists on suspicion of inciting a coup. …

Zekeriya Oz, the chief Ergenekon prosecutor, said the pair were arrested not because of their writings but because of “other activities” that he was, for the time being, “unable to reveal”. Yet leaked transcripts of their interrogations show that Mr Oz grilled them about several books, including one written by a former police chief, Hanefi Avci, which also attacks the Gulenists. (Shortly after its publication, Mr Avci, a self-avowed religious conservative, was imprisoned for his alleged membership of an obscure left-wing faction.)

Emma Sinclair-Webb of Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group, points out that the use of secret evidence means that defendants cannot challenge their detention. The longer it remains secret, the louder the protests are likely to be.  (photo: AFP)

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