Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) and Journalists Association of Turkey (TGC) have condemned the detention of journalists in a police operation on Sunday while describing the development as an open attack on media freedom in the country.
Zaman Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı, Samanyolu TV network executive Hidayet Karaca and a number of other journalists, columnists, scriptwriters and producers were arrested on Sunday in a large-scale media crackdown. Some of the detainees were later released following interrogations.
TGS Secretary-General Mustafa Kuleli, who spoke at a news conference at the TGS building on Tuesday, said what has been done to Zaman and Samanyolu TV is an effort to intimidate these media outlets, warning that other media outlets may face the same treatment tomorrow.
“Perhaps you will see policemen waiting at the door of the Hürriyet daily tomorrow,” said Kuleli.
He said it is unacceptable for them to approve the prosecution of journalists in the country for doing their profession, adding that he does not want Turkey to be the biggest jailer of journalists in the world.
Concerning the charges directed at Dumanlı, Kuleli said he is a journalist who only deals with his profession. “He is a figure who is a member of international press organizations, who has written articles and has launched debates on journalism and the ethics of journalism. The charge directed at him is an ‘attempt to take over the sovereignty of the state’ … There is nothing credible in this,” added Kuleli.
Making assessments about the freedom of the media in the country in 2014, the TGS secretary-general said 2014 was a dark year in terms of the freedom of the press. During the past year, journalists have experienced pressure, censorship, detentions, physical attacks, accreditation bans and dismissals from their jobs.
TGC President Turgay Olcayto, who also made a speech at the same news conference, said he would like to say good things about the state of journalism in Turkey on the eve of a new year, but 2014 has unfortunately been a year marked with further regression in the freedom of the press.
Olcayto also condemned the detention of journalists in Sunday’s operation, adding that he knows Dumanlı is busy with journalism. He said the detention of Dumanlı and other journalists is just an effort to defame them and that it is not based on sound legal ground.
Giving some statistics about journalists at the news conference, TGC Secretary-General Sibel Güneş said 2014 was a tough year for all journalists. In the past year, 217 journalists have been subjected to physical assaults, 559 journalists and media workers have lost their jobs, 83 journalists have resigned from their posts and mass dismissals of journalists have been ongoing. She noted that while there were 104 jailed journalists in the country in 2010, this figure fell to 19 in December of this year — a positive development.