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​IFJ/EFJ Condemn mass Arrest of Turkish Journalists

18 December 2014

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its regional group, the European Federation of Journalists (EF), today condemned the shock raid on Zaman newspaper and Samanyolu TV media resulting in the arrest of at least 23 media persons including journalists, editors and media executives.

“We are appalled by this brazen assault on press freedom and Turkish democracy,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “One year after the exposure of corruption at the heart of government, the authorities appear to be exacting their revenge by targeting those who express opposing views.”

The police raids took place on Sunday morning, targeting media said to be close to Fethullah Gûllen, the US-based cleric whose supporters have been allegedly working against the Erdogan government.

In recent years Turkey has been the leading jailer of journalists with over a hundred in prison three years ago at the height of the Ergenekon, KCK and Oda TV cases. Numbers had dropped significantly this year, however

“This latest act demonstrates that the authorities’ contempt for journalism has not diminished,” added Boumelha.

Mustafa Kuleli, General Secretary of the Journalists Union of Turkey, (TGS) an affiliate of the IFJ and EFJ also denounced the raid, saying that “This move against our colleagues is in fact an operation against freedom and democracy in Turkey. No matter which group is targeted for persecution, nobody can stay silent. We will continue to defend the journalists who are being punished because of their reporting.”

The EFJ President, Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, gave his strong backing to TGS’s stand and urged action at the European level. “The Council of Europe and other intergovernmental institutions should take action in relation to Turkey. Only 10 days ago we together with the Council of Europe signed a memorandum of understanding to build a new platform about early warnings on attacks on journalist, journalism and media. This is such an example, and we need the international community to send a very clear and firm message to the authorities in Turkey.”