Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism

Turkish courts orders release of eight journalists in two days

With the recent bans on Twitter and Youtube, Turkey has been no friend to free speech.

Turkey Protest

Turkish riot police fire water cannons and tear gas at thousands of demonstrators who were trying to march to the Parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. Photo credit: AP Photo

However, the Committee to Protect Journalists reports that in two separate cases, Turkish courts ordered the release of at least eight journalists on March 28 and March 29.

Among those released were six journalists detained since December 2011 in connection with a case against the banned Union of Communities of Kurdistan (KCK). The journalists were among a group of 45 prisoners released as part of the KCK investigation. All six have been imprisoned since December 2011. KCK is regarded as a terrorist group by the Turkish government.

Two other released journalists detained since January 2013 for their alleged involvement in the Revolutionary People's Salvation Party/Front (DHKP/C), another outlawed group in Turkey.were also freed.

The releases came after the closure of the Turkish Special Authority Court, established in 2005 to handle terrorism and other serious cases.

The journalists have been banned from foreign travel and are scheduled to be appear in Turkey’s criminal court system July 10 to face charges.

CPJ welcomed the release of the journalists but called on Ankara to completely scrap the charges against them and to further free all incarcerated journalists.

"While we welcome Turkey's move to release journalists from prison, we reiterate that they should never have been jailed in the first place," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "As long as the charges are pending, and the threat of jail persists, the Turkish media will be deterred from independent and critical reporting."

Turkey is the world’s top jailer of journalists with 40 detained media workers, according to CPJ.

Another press group, Reporters Without Borders, called the climate “toxic” for journalists in Turkey during regional elections in March.

By Tyler Castner. 

Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism.
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