Set Turkish press free, urge MEPs
"Release journalists being held without compelling evidence of criminal activity", MEPs urge the Turkish authorities in a resolution voted on Thursday. Since the failed coup d’état on 15 July, the Turkish government has arrested at least 99 journalists and writers, revoked the press credentials of at least 330 journalists, and closed the offices of more than 100 media outlets, leaving over 2,300 media workers without jobs.
"Journalists should not be detained on the basis of the content of their journalism or alleged affiliations", say MEPs, who call on the "Turkish authorities to release those journalists and media workers being held without compelling evidence of criminal activity" following the coup attempt of 15 July 2016 which led to:
- at least 99 journalists and writers being arrested, denied the right of access to a lawyer and kept in inhumane conditions in which they are threatened and mistreated, according to the European Federation of Journalists and the Turkish Journalists’ Association,
- the closing of the offices of more than 100 broadcasters, newspapers, magazines, publishers and distribution companies, leaving over 2,300 journalists and media workers without jobs, and
- the revocation of at least 330 journalists’ press credentials, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists;
MEPs strongly condemn the attempted coup of 15 July 2016 and "support the legitimate institutions of Turkey and their right to respond” to the failed military take-over, but stress that this event cannot be used as an excuse to further stifle legitimate and peaceful opposition and to prevent journalists from exercising their freedom of expression. "A free and pluralistic press is an essential component of any democracy" and open society, they recall.
Turkey’s government should "narrow the scope of the emergency measures, so that they can no longer be used to curtail freedom of expression" and not use the "broadly defined Turkish anti-terrorism legislation" to punish journalists, stress MEPs. They call on the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the member states to continue monitoring closely the practical implications of the state of emergency declared following the coup attempt and prolonged by 90 days from 19 October.