September 2, 2015

Amnesty International expresses concern over state of journalists in Turkey

In the wake of Turkey’s latest government-backed crackdown against Koza İpek Holding, parent company of İpek Media Group, Amnesty International has expressed its grave concern over press suppression and the state of journalists.

In a statement released Wednesday, Amnesty International’s Turkey Campaign Director Milena Buyum stressed how journalists in Turkey were unable to do their jobs and how the situation kept getting worse.

Early Tuesday morning, teams from the Finance Ministry's Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK), complete with police escort and a 4-page search warrant in hand, raided İpek Media Group, Koza İpek Holding, İpek University, Kanal Türk and Chairman Akın İpek’s own home.

Turkish dailies Bugün and Millet, channels Bugün TV and Kanaltürk and English-language web portal all belong to the İpek Media Group.

Amnesty warned that Turkey had entered a period of unprecedented suppression, from restrictions on the freedom of speech to banning the right to demonstrate during 2013’s nationwide anti-government Gezi protests, and from the excessive use of force by police to the blocking of social media sites. It added that people should not be facing legal prosecution over their ideas.

Pointing out that foreign journalists were also being targeted by the government, Buyum reiterated that developments in Turkey were a serious cause for concern.

In addition to the İpek Media Group crackdown, two British journalists working for Vice News were arrested and incarcerated for alleged terrorist activities in Turkey. A court in Diyarbakır ruled to arrest the two as well as their assistant on charges of "aiding a terrorist organization,” referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Vice News, along with a number of press advocacy groups, called on Turkish authorities to release the journalists. Vice described the charges as "baseless and alarmingly false." The arrest of the journalists has caused outrage in both Turkey and the West.

Published on BGNNews, 2 September 2015, Wednesday