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14 November 2011 – Association of European Journalists passes Resolution backing campaign to free Turkish journalists

The Turkish authorities should stop abusing the country’s repressive laws expression to prosecute journalists, and should immediately release journalists being held in pre-trial detention. That demand was made at the 2011 annual Congress of the Association of European Journalists in Bucharest, Romania, at the weekend.

The AEJ Resolution, which was passed unanimously,also expressed members’ full support for the activities of the Turkish Freedom for Journalists Platform, a coalition of journalists associations of Turkey which has led national and international campaigns in support of press freedom and jailed journalists.

In particular, the Congress called on Turkey to drop what appear to be fabricated and unfounded charges against the journalists Nedim Sener, Ahmet Şık and others.

Sener, an investigative reporter of Milliyet newspaper, has already spent about 250 days in pre-trial detention before facing trial on terrorism charges following the publication of his book about the 2007 murder of fellow-journalist and editor Hrant Dink. Sik was detained in relation to his book, which was confiscated before publication, about alleged links between Turkey’s powerful Fethullah Gulen movement and the police.

The AEJ also called on the governments of other countries, including EU member states, to press Turkey to repeal its restrictive laws, including Article 5651 of the Turkish Penal Code, which has been used to block Turkish Internet users from accessing hundreds of websites, as well as vague and sweeping provisions that have been used to charge journalists with supporting a terrorist organisation or insulting State institutions.

Last month the European Commission, in its annual report on Turkey as a candidate to join the EU, expressed concern at the very high number of criminal prosecutions against journalists there, as well as the extensive use of pre-trial detentions.

The AEJ also expresses its deep sorrow for the death of two Turkish journalists Sebahattin Yilmaz and Cem Emir who lost their lives under the ruins of a hotel in the earthquake which hit southeastern Turkish town of Van several days ago.

The AEJ Bucharest Congress was attended by over sixty journalists from seventeen European countries.

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