Letter campaign for imprisoned journalists

The initiative "Haberin var mı" has launched a letter campaign for six journalists imprisoned in Turkey who are accused of disclosing state secrets in connection with their reporting on Libya.

The journalist initiative "Haberin var mı" ("Do you know") has started a letter campaign for several journalists who were arrested in Turkey at the beginning of March because of their reporting on Libya. Via the social media, the initiative calls for participation in the campaign under the hashtag #GazetecilereMektupVar as a sign of solidarity.

The journalists, who are Mehmet Ferhat Çelik and Aydın Keser from the pro-Kurdish newspaper Yeni Yaşam, Murat Ağırel from Yeniçağ and Barış Pehlivan, Barış Terkoğlu and Hülya Kılınç from the online news portal Oda TV, were arrested at the end of February and the beginning of March respectively.

The journalists are accused of “disclosing information and documents on intelligence activities”. Specifically, the reports concerned the funeral of members of the Turkish secret service MIT who were killed in Libya, but whose death had already been the subject of public discussion beforehand - among other things after a corresponding statement by the Turkish Ministry of Defence at a press conference of an IYI party member in the Turkish parliament.

The journalists of Yeni Yaşam had only reported on soldiers who had died in Libya. There was no mention of MIT members in their reporting. The initiative also draws attention to the fate of Rûdaw correspondent Rawîn Stêrk, who was arrested in Edirne in early March when he was documenting the events at the Pazarkule/Kastanies border crossing after Turkey had transported thousands of refugees to the border in buses.

New judicial reform makes release of reporters impossible

Meanwhile, a court in Istanbul this week rejected a request for release of the journalists because of the danger of infection with the coronavirus. In order to explicitly prevent the release of the reporters on Libya, the governing coalition of AKP and MHP had added a special article to their bill for a judicial reform, which had been submitted to parliament, shortly before the vote a week ago. Exactly this article currently concerns the journalists who are in prison for reporting on Ankara's war missions in Libya.

Participation in the campaign

The initiative "Haberin var mı" has published pictures of virtual envelopes with the addresses of the journalists on their Twitter profile. The background to the action is as follows: "They are in prison because they informed the public, spread the truth and provided facts. Now it's our turn to write."

Under Erdogan rule, Turkey has become one of the world's largest prisons for journalists. According to the Journalists' Association DFG (Dicle Fırat Gazeteciler Derneği) there are currently 103 journalists and other media workers in prison.