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Police detain five journalists, raid newspaper and TV station

(IPI/IFEX) - 24 August 2011 - The International Press Institute (IPI) today condemned raids by police in Istanbul on the offices of Aydinlik newspaper and the Ulusal Kanal television station, and the detention of five journalists.

The journalists were taken into custody following raids on Thursday reportedly made in connection with the ongoing probe of the alleged "Ergenekon" plot by secular ultra-nationalists to topple current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government.

Turkish media indicated that four of the journalists were later released, but that a court yesterday ordered the arrest of Ulusal Kanal Executive Editor Turhan Özlü, along with three members of Turkey's Worker's Party (IP). The party's headquarters was also raided Thursday.

IPI's Turkish National Committee called the raids and the detentions "a direct violation of press freedom." It said: "In Turkey, silencing journalists by arresting them has become a political tool of the government against opposition."

The group called on the government to take immediate measures to release Özlü and to amend Turkish press laws to comport with decisions by the European Court of Human Rights. It also called on Turkish authorities to guarantee press freedom and to protect the people's right to receive news.

According to the Freedom for Journalists Platform - an umbrella group representing local and national media organizations in Turkey - Turkey's government is holding more than 60 journalists in prison, apparently more than any other country in the world.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)'s representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, reached a similar conclusion in a report released in April that found that the government was then holding at least 57 journalists in prison. Mijatovic's report indicated that most of the journalists - which include IPI World Press Freedom Hero Nedim Sener, who has been detained since March - were jailed under criminal or anti-terrorism laws in connection with the Ergenekon probe or in connection with alleged activities on behalf of Kurdish or Marxist groups.

In many cases connected with the Ergenekon probe, the government has declined to release evidence supporting allegations against journalists it has implicated in the plot.

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