On 3 of March, Turkey, a long standing hopeful to join the EU, carried out repressive arrests of nine journalists, known for their critical words aimed at their government. The long suffering freedom speech in Turkey needs bolstering, not continued self censorship and suppression, Hautala emphasised. [:]
As they were arrested, their homes and offices were raided and documentation confiscated. “These kinds of acts are far below the standard that the EU expects of its partner states, not to mention from those hoping to join in,” she stressed.
“Freedom of speech is an indispensable cornerstone of any state considering itself a democracy. There is no halfway in upholding the fundamental rights, as it is seemingly thought in Ankara. If freedom of expression is respected only when agreeable to those in power, it does not deserve to be called freedom,” Chairwoman Hautala added.
Mr Ahmet Şık and Mr Nedim Şener, who were amongst those arrested on 3 March, have given particular attention to the plight of independent and critical journalism in Turkey. Mr Şık was currently working on a book about the police and Mr Şener has published a book on the murder of Hrant Dink, a well known journalist in Turkey.
There is a reason to believe that the arrests were carried out to curtail their critical commentary in particular; While it is understood that the state has so far failed to charge the individuals with any recognisable crime, it has nevertheless been reported that some of the arrested individuals have been accused of having connection to the so called “Ergenekon” coup plots against the government. Such accusations ring hollow against the fact that Mr Şık is also a co-author of a critical book about the very same case.
Under Turkish law, the time is up today, they must be either charged or released, she added.