The Arab Federation for Human Rights strongly condemns the jail terms imposed by a Turkish court on 15 journalists from the opposition daily Cumhuriyet in a move that confirms the Turkish government’s violation of fundamental freedoms and the unprecedented attack on freedom of expression and press freedom in Turkey.
The Turkish opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet recently reported that a Turkish court has handed unfair prison sentences to 15 journalists under various pretexts, including accusations of taking part in the July 15, 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan’s regime. The lawyer, Osdin Osdemir, told Reuters news agency that “the Court issued sentences ranging from 2.5 to 7.5 years of imprisonment on the workers of the newspaper”, including Murad Sabongo, editor and the director of the newspaper, Akin Atalay. The court has ruled separately the trial of the former editor of the newspaper.
He added that another defendant in the case, not a newspaper employee, was charged for his activities on Twitter, and was sentenced to a harsh sentence of 10 years.
The Arab Federation for Human Rights believes that these sentences against the 15 Turkish journalists are unacceptable and represent an unprecedented level of repression of dissenting voices in Turkey. The Federation calls on the Turkish government to rescind the decision and to immediately and unconditionally release the journalists. AFHR further highlights that the imprisonment of journalists will not only silence them but deprive Turkish citizens of their right to pluralistic views on issues that can directly affect their lives. It also calls on the Turkish government to guarantee the freedom of journalists and to promote and protect the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
A Turkish court sentenced six Turkish journalists to life in prison last February. The Turkish government has also detained at least 73 journalists on charges of involvement in planning and carrying out the failed coup attempt, making it the world’s most widely held detention center for journalists, according to the International Committee to Protect Journalists. Turkey ranks 155 out of 180 in the RSF press freedom rankings.
Arab Federation for Human Rights
Geneva -April 26th 2018