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Newspaper editor pressured by military to hand over source material, threatened with possible legal action

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is an 11 July 2008 IPI press release:

Vienna, 11 July 2008

IPI Calls on Turkish Authorities to Respect Source Confidentiality

The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in over 120 countries, expresses support for a statement issued by IPI's National Committee in Turkey regarding a recent wave of journalist arrests in Turkey, and urges Turkish authorities to remain mindful of the principles of press freedom in the current political crisis.

In a statement issued on 1 July 2008, IPI's National Committee in Turkey voiced its concerns at a string of arrests carried out in the context of an investigation into an alleged plot to overthrow the Turkish government, known as the "Ergenekon" affair. At least five journalists were arrested in the past year on suspicion of involvement in the alleged conspiracy, and all still face possible criminal charges. IPI Turkey strongly criticised the manner in which the arrests were made, pointing to the use of handcuffs and the manhandling of journalists by the police. According to information before IPI, the authorities have also seized the personal computers and mobile telephones of the arrested journalists and have yet to return them. The nature of the seizures also violated Article 134 of the Turkish Code of Criminal Procedure, which requires authorities to hand over copies of all the information seized to the owners or their lawyers. This was not done.

In a separate issue, the Military Prosecutor recently demanded that the editor-in-chief of Turkish daily newspaper Taraf hand over source material regarding a news article published in their edition of 25 June 2008. The article contained a leaked copy of a confidential military document. Taraf has since returned the document in question, but was also ordered to hand over additional classified documents - which Taraf claims not even to possess - or face legal action.

"The media's role of keeping the public informed is vital at times of political uncertainty, and is possible only where journalists can work with sources whose confidentiality is protected," said IPI Director David Dadge. "We therefore urge the Turkish authorities to ensure that the media is allowed to operate without interference, and to stop engaging in activities that threaten investigative journalism and the public interest it serves."

IPI, the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, is dedicated to the furtherance and safeguarding of press freedom, the protection of freedom of opinion and expression, the promotion of the free flow of news and information, and the improvement of the practices of journalism.

For further information on the "Ergenekon" affair see:
http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/91789
http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/91629

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