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Appeals against journalists' detention rejected

(BIANET/IFEX) - 18 March 2011 - Appeals filed against the detention of journalists Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener were dismissed by the Istanbul 10th High Criminal Court. Sik and Sener were taken into custody on 3 March 2011 in the scope of the Ergenekon probe into a plot to topple the Justice and Development Party. They were arrested and detained three days later on 6 March.

The appeals were rejected by unanimous vote. The court made the decision on 17 March and notified the suspects' lawyers the following day. The decision is based on Article 100/3 of the Criminal Procedure Law. According to the provision, the request for the release of a suspect can be rejected by reasons of "concealing evidence", "possibility of escape" or "pressure on witnesses". The decision on the two journalists' detention does not mention any reason related to their particular situation.

The arrests and detentions of Sik and Sener were the subject of various criticisms voiced by the European Parliament , the U.S. government, Reporters without Borders (RSF), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the International Press Institute (IPI), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and other international professional press institutions, as well as the Turkey-based Freedom for Journalists Platform (GOP).

The criticism mainly referred to journalists' right to protect their sources and the interrogations of the journalists that included questions about their professional activities. The organizations and institutions called on the Turkish authorities to stop attacks on press freedom.

The latest reaction came from Harry van Bommel, Member of Parliament for the Socialist Party (SP) in the Netherlands. He forwarded four questions about the arrest of Sik and Sener to the Foreign Minister of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu. All four questions touch upon the recent arrests and press freedom.

People in Istanbul went to the streets twice within the past two weeks to express their protest against the arrests. Thousands of demonstrators joined the protest walks from Taksim along Istiklal Avenue in the centre of Istanbul.

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