20/02/2019 / Final Nail in the Coffin for Press Freedom in Turkey?

Final Nail in the Coffin for Press Freedom in Turkey?

Peace, Democracy and Law, 20/02/2019

Cumhuriyet-prisonA Turkish court upholds lengthy sentences against journalists and other former staff members of the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet. The Right Livelihood Award Foundation, which honoured Cumhuriyet with the Right Livelihood Award in 2016 for their fearless investigative journalism, condemns the political verdict and calls on Turkish authorities to release all staff members of Cumhuriyet and respect freedom of the press in the country.

“In Turkey, justice has become degraded to be synonymous with torture. My friends are guilty of nothing but conducting honest journalism. To send them back to prison will be the final nail in the coffin of our hope for true justice to prevail in Turkey” said Can Dündar, former Editor in Chief of Cumhuriyet, from his exile in Germany.

Last year, 14 staff members of Cumhuriyet were sentenced to 2,5-8 years imprisonment on charges of supporting terrorist groups. The verdict sparked heavy international criticism, including from the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Mr. David Kaye. On Tuesday, an Istanbul appeals court confirmed the lengthy sentences.

“We condemn this blatant violation against freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to fair trial. We stand by those who were wrongly convicted and call on Turkey to cease all investigation and prosecution of the courageous Cumhuriyet journalists. Journalism is not a crime and all charges must be dropped” said Fabiana Leibl, Protection and Advocacy Manager at the Right Livelihood Award Foundation

Turkey is ranked 157th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ 2018 World Press Freedom Index“This one of the most illustrative cases of the politically motivated crackdown against press freedom in Turkey” said Fabiana Leibl.

Cumhuriyet received the Right Livelihood Award in 2016 “for their fearless investigative journalism and commitment to freedom of expression in the face of oppression, censorship, imprisonment and death threats.”