President Gül: Legal Reforms for Detained Journalists on their Way

At a conference in London, President Gül announced that legal reforms are on their way regarding detained journalists in Turkey. 23 professional press organizations had recently urged the government for legal reforms and the release of 50 journalists.

President Abdullah Gül announced that the government was heading for legal reforms regarding journalists detained in Turkish prisons. Gül was confronted with the issue by journalists at a conference in London on Monday (9 November). “Legal amendments are on their way” was Gül’s reply to the journalists’ questions. A reporter from the BBC asked the Turkish President a question on the approximately 50 journalists who are currently being detained in Turkey. The crowded conference was also attended by Gül’s wife Hayrünnisa Gül and his son Emre Gül. Gül said that this was worrisome. He informed the journalist that he talked the matter through with the Minister of Justice, indicating that he was heading for reforms.
Detentions not based on freedom of expression…
Gül put forward that the problem did not stem from “any kind of freedom of expression, the statement of an idea or writing or voicing the most extreme thoughts or divergent thoughts”. “In Turkey today everybody can write or talk about his thoughts, may it be the most adverse ideas, may it be an issue I am not fond of at all. People can give speeches about these topics, they can organize conferences”, Gül said. “The topic of the journalists you refer to is related to disclosing documents that should have remained confidential due to currently pending trials. These documents are going to be disclosed but for the time being they have to remain at the courts for certain stages of the trials. The problem is that these documents were obtained and disclosed too early. This bothers us of course”.
  Journalists urge for legal reforms
23 Turkish journalists organizations recently met in Ankara in the scope of a campaign run by the European Journalists Federation (EFJ). They called the government to release the 50 journalists immediately and urged for reforms of the Turkish Criminal Court (TCK) and the Anti-Terror Law (TMK).
  Four journalists detained because of their writings
According to the Media Monitoring Report of the Independent Communication Network(B?A) for the second quarter of 2010, four journalists are imprisoned on the grounds of their writings, namely Erdal Güler, editorial manager of the Revolutionary Democracy newspaper, Hawar newspaper official Bedri Adan?r, Gurbet Çakar, editor-in-chief of the Denge Heviya Jine women’s magazine and Vedat Kur?un, former chief editor of the Kurdish Azadia Welat newspaper. They are imprisoned under charges of “praising” illegal organizations such as the armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) or the clandestine Maoist Communist Party (MKP) “in their published articles”. Most recently, Ozan K?l?ç form Azadiya Welat was put to jail as well.
  25 journalists charged because of “connections” to illegal organizations
According to the report, 25 journalists are behind bars because of their alleged affiliation with illegal organizations such as the Democratic Confederation of Kurdistan (KCK), the PKK, the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) or the clandestine ultra-national “Ergenekon” organization. The fact that journalists are being detained for three or four years pending trial reflects the fundamental concern of the professional organizations on press freedom. (EÖ/VK)

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