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Broadcasters' premises searched by police; groups concerned about increasing pressure on the press and freedom of expression

(BIANET/IFEX) - The Turkish Journalists' Trade Union (TGS) and the Contemporary Journalists' Association (ÇGD) have expressed their worry about violations of basic rights in the Ergenekon investigation.

On 22 January 2009 in Ankara, the Avrasya Radio and Television (ART) and Turkish Metal Workers' Trade Union buildings were searched in the context of (the Ergenekon investigation.

The TGS and ÇGD have now reacted with statements expressing their concern that basic rights are being violated.

The TGS expressed its belief in the independence of the judiciary, but stated that the government was not showing the same neutrality.

"We are worried about the future of democracy. We worry that basic rights and freedoms are being violated. We are also worried about the increasing pressure being put on the press and on their freedom of expression." The ÇGD said, "These practices show that the government is not trying to get rid of this structure (Ergenekon), but rather, is protecting it and shaping it in a way that will benefit its political aims."

The TGS expressed its concern that the Ergenekon trial was not being used to expose and prosecute criminal structures within the state, but rather that the government was using it to put pressure on intellectuals, media organs, democratic mass organisations, and, most recently, trade unions and the labour movement.

"Our worries are increased by the fact that the confidentiality of the investigation is being violated, that the names of some people arrested were previously given to some of the media, and that statements given to the police immediately make their way into some broadcasts and publications."

In the written statement, ÇGD president Ahmet Abakay accused the government of using the Ergenekon investigation as an excuse to prevent ART from broadcasting.

"We strongly condemn the pressure put on Avrasya TV and the broadcasting obstruction. The fact that Avrasya TV opposes the government in its broadcasts and criticises the government shows us what is behind this police operation. The Ergenekon trial has turned into an intimidation device to threaten the press, mass organisations and people in general."

Updates the Ergenekon affair:

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