As investigative journalists Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener completed their 100th day in prison, hundreds of people marched down Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue on 18 June to demand their release and the release of all the other journalists detained in Turkey. It was the third big march since their arrest on 6 March.
There is no sign of any weakening in support for Sik and Sener, whose fourth request for provisional release has just been rejected by the Istanbul prosecutor’s office. They have yet to be formally indicted.
“Now that the 12 June elections are over, the government must move quickly to end the persecution of journalists by the police and judicial authorities and to guarantee the right to news and information,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The immediate release of Sik and Sener would be an important symbolic step in this direction.”
Reporters Without Borders notes Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s announcement that he is withdrawing the defamation suits he had brought against 14 people including several journalists such as Ahmet Altan of Taraf or Meriç Velidedeoglu of Cumhuriyet.
But this gesture does not affect the thousands of other lawsuits and prosecutions currently under way against journalists, as CNN Türk journalist Ridvan Akar said on behalf of the “Friends of Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener” during the 18 June demonstration.
“Such an expression of anger by just one man in a position of power, like his forgiveness, is incompatible with democracy,” Akar said. “Democracy in our country does not need half measures. It needs a judicial system that functions properly. What journalists want from the prime minister is repeal of the Anti-Terror Law and abolition of the special courts, instruments that the judicial system keeps using to prosecute and often imprison journalists.”
These demands head the recommendations that Reporters Without Borders makes to the Turkish authorities in a newly-released report entitled “Media and justice in Turkey – mistrust and repression.” The report focuses above all on the Sik and Sener case, which typifies judicial persecution of journalists in Turkey.
Read the Reporters Without Borders report:
Read the previous Reporters Without Borders releases on this subject:
Wave of searches and arrests of investigative journalists (04.03.2011)
Court orders two journalists held on terrorist conspiracy charge (07.03.2011)
Courts refuse to back down, so journalists to remain in prison pending trial (17.03.2011)
Seizure and destruction of Ahmet Sik’s unpublished book: "a very dangerous precedent" (25.03.2011)
(Picture: Ayça Söylemez, Bianet)