The International Press Institute (IPI), today called on Turkey’s authorities to cease harassment of media and to ensure the safety of journalists following the detention of eight journalists over the weekend including four Sputnik News journalists on Sunday, March 1.
The day before a violent mob had surrounded the Ankara homes of three sputnik journalists following the death of 36 Turkish soldiers, allegedly killed in an airstrike by Syrian government forces, and the appearance of an article “The ‘Stolen Province’: Why Turkey Was Given A Corner Of Syria By France 80 Years Ago” on Sputnik’s English website.
When the three journalists later visited the police station to file complaints against the mob they instead found themselves detained by the police and questioned about the Sputnik article.
In Istanbul, the editor-in-chief of Sputnik News Turkey, Mahir Boztepe, was also detained on March 1 following a police raid on Sputnik’s Istanbul office and questioned about the article. All four journalists were reportedly released after a phone call between the foreign ministers of Russia and Turkey.
Meanwhile, reports are coming in of journalists being detained while reporting on attempts by Syrian refugees to enter Greece following the opening of Turkey’s border gates in Edirne.
At least four journalists were detained over the weekend including İdris Sayılğan and Naci Kaya, both of Mezopotamya News Agency (MA), and Rudaw reporter İsmail Yıldız and cameraman Mehmet Şirin Akgün. Local news reported that Sayılğan was officially arrested on March 2, while Kaya is still in detention and the other two have been released.
And today British journalist Bradley Secker was taken into police custody along with a further nine journalists. The journalists are reportedly being held in a gendarmerie base near central Edirne. Secker was reported to be released after giving his testimony.
Alptekin Dursunoğlu, editor-in-chief of Yakın Doğu Haber (Near East News), following social media posts on criticizing the military conflict in Idlib, was also arrested today on the charges of “inciting public to hatred and enmity”.
“Where there is a political crisis the instinct of the authorities has become to arrest first and ask questions later,” said IPI Programmes Manager Oliver Money-Kyrle. ”Turkey must end this culture of detaining journalists and instead enable media to work freely and in safety.”