Turkey: international freedom of expression organisations call for acquittal of Özgür Gündem ‘guest editors’

English PEN has joined the International Press Institute (IPI) and fellow freedom of expression organisations around the world to demand the full acquittal of journalists Erol Önderoğlu and Ahmet Nesin and Human Rights Foundation chair Şebnem Korur Fincancı. Read our full statement below.

UPDATE, 4 April 2019:

‘No progress has been made all through the trial process. All in all, we have given two and a half years of our lives to an indictment hastily prepared in one day’ – Erol Önderoğlu

Following today’s hearing, the trial was adjourned until 17 July. In the meantime, please continue to show your support by spreading the word and sign this petition from our colleagues at Reporters Without Borders.


The below-named freedom of expression organizations denounce the lengthy judicial harassment suffered by Reporters Without Borders representative and IPI member Erol Önderoğlu, Turkey’s Human Rights Foundation Chair Şebnem Korur Fincancı and journalist Ahmet Nesin and call for their full acquittal at the hearing on April 15, 2019, when a verdict is expected.

The three defendants are charged with ‘engaging in propaganda for a terrorist organisation’, ‘incitement to commit a crime’ and ‘praising criminal activities and those engaged in them’ for standing in as guest editors in the ‘Editors-in-Chief on Watch’ solidarity campaign for the shuttered pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem.

We further denounce the ongoing detention and prosecution of scores of journalists in Turkey as an autocratic attempt to silence all dissenting voices and to prevent independent journalists from carrying out their profession.

We offer our support and solidarity to our colleagues Önderoğlu, Korur Fincancı and Nesin, who have been subjected to a trial lasting almost three years, and we call on the Turkish government to cease such oppression of journalists, academics and writers.

Caroline Stockford, Turkey Advocacy Coordinator at the International Press Institute, said:

This case is about an act of collegial solidarity that should never have resulted in criminal proceedings. Turkey must cease violating the rights of journalists to disseminate the news and of the public to receive balanced reporting.

Sarah Clarke, Head of Europe and Central Asia at ARTICLE 19, said:

By targeting prominent human rights defenders, the authorities aim to decimate what little remains of civil society in Turkey. They will not succeed. We stand united with our colleagues and insist that this relentless judicial harassment cease.

Nora Wehofsits, Advocacy Officer at the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), said:

When the very act of solidarity for repressed journalism is criminalised in Turkey, international solidarity for our colleagues becomes even more crucial.

Chiara Sighele, OBC Transeuropa, added:

International public opinion should know that Turkey is not merely Erdogan’s Turkey. Like Erol Önderoğlu, Şebnem Korur Fincancı and Ahmet Nesin, there are many people and courageous initiatives that need to be heard about and be supported. This is why providing the international public with continuous and in-depth coverage on Turkey is so important today.

Kjersti Løken Stavrum, Vice President of Norwegian PEN, said:

We stand united in support of Erol Önderoğlu, Şebnem Korur Fincancı and Ahmet Nesin. We promise that we will do our utmost to support the journalists and to put pressure on the Turkish government to cease the prosecution and detention of journalists.

Özgür Gündem has long been targeted by Turkish authorities for its journalism. Last month the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Turkey had violated the right to freedom of expression in systematically bringing terrorism-related criminal cases against Özgür Gündem’s owner, Ali Gürbüz, between 2004 and 2005.

Signed by:

ARTICLE 19
Articolo 21
Association of European Journalists
CRNI (Cartoonists Rights Network International)
CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists)
Danish PEN
ECPMF (European Centre for Press and Media Freedom)
EFJ (European Federation of Journalists)
English PEN
Freedom House
Front Line Defenders
German PEN
IFJ (International Federation of Journalists)
IPI (International Press Institute)
Norwegian PEN
OBC Transeuropa
PEN America
PEN Belgium/Flanders
PEN Canada
PEN Germany
PEN International
PEN Netherlands
P24 (Platform for Independent Journalism)
SEEMO (South East Europe Media Organisation)
Swedish PEN
Wales PEN Cymru

About Cat Lucas

Cat Lucas is English PEN's Writers at Risk Programme Manager

View all posts by Cat Lucas →

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