International organisations call on Turkey to end persecution of journalists
17 free speech, human rights and journalists’ organizations support Reporters Without Borders representative Erol Önderoğlu, whose retrial opens today.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Amnesty International, Article 19, CPJ and 13 other free speech, human rights and journalists’ organizations issued a joint statement in support of RSF representative Erol Önderoğlu, who is facing a possible 14-year prison sentence for promoting media pluralism in Turkey.
Önderoğlu had been acquitted but on 3 November 2020, the 3rd Penal Chamber of the Court of Appeals of Istanbul reversed the ruling of acquittal given on 17 July 2019.
Today the new trial begins. The journalist together with his co-defendants, the physician and human rights defender Şebnem Korur Fincancı and writer and journalist Ahmet Nesin, face up to 14 and a half years in prison, under the Anti-Terror Law No. 3713 and the Penal Code of Turkey.
The statement said: "No country can claim to be a democracy when its government and judicial system persecute human rights defenders in this way."
The statement calls "on the Turkish government to drop all the charges against Erol Önderoğlu and his two fellow defendants, the physician and human rights activist Şebnem Korur Fincancı and the writer and journalist Ahmet Nesin, and to put a stop to all forms of persecution of journalists, writers and academics in Turkey."
Standing trial for having participated in the “Editors-in-Chief on Watch” campaign in solidarity with the closed Özgür Gündem newspaper in 2016, Erol Önderoğlu and his two co-defendants, Şebnem Korur Fincancı and Ahmet Nesin, were originally acquitted after three years of persecution. However, on 3 November 2020, the 3rd Penal Chamber of the Court of Appeals of Istanbul reversed the ruling of acquittal given on 17 July 2019.
On 3 February 2020, Mr. Önderoğlu and his co-defendants will once again be tried on charges of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization”, “openly inciting to commit crimes” and “praising the crime and the criminal”. They face these spurious charges solely for guest editing Özgür Gündem , which was forcibly closed in 2016 in the media crackdown following the attempted coup.