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Add your signature to IPI petition to free journalist Nedim Sener

IPI

(IPI/IFEX) - 10 January 2012 - A petition led by the International Press Institute (IPI) calling for the release of imprisoned Turkish investigative journalist and IPI World Press Freedom Hero Nedim Şener has already received over 3,000 signatures. On 5 January, an Istanbul court declined once again to release Şener, who has spent nearly 300 days in prison.

Şener and nine other journalists were arrested last March and charged with serving as the media wing of Ergenekon, an alleged clandestine ultra-nationalist organisation with ties to military and security forces accused of plotting to overthrow the government. If convicted, Şener faces up to 15 years in prison.

According to The Freedom for Journalists Platform, an umbrella group representing 94 local and national media organisations in Turkey, nearly 100 journalists are behind bars in the country. The figure includes 40 journalists arrested during mass raids in late December and accused of spreading 'terrorist propaganda' and makes the country one of the world's leading jailers of journalists.

IPI named Şener a World Press Freedom Hero in 2010, three years after he published a book investigating the government's handling of the 2007 murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.

In court last week, Şener was quoted by The New York Times as calling himself “a victim in a revenge operation — nothing else.” The government's case hinges on highly questionable evidence, including a file containing Şener's name found on a computer inside the offices of Oda TV, also implicated in the Ergenekon case. Independent forensic investigators have suggested that the file was placed there by outside hackers, according to a report circulated by defence lawyers.

IPI Press Freedom Adviser for Europe Steven M. Ellis attended the court's reading of the indictment against the journalists in Istanbul on 26 December in a show of support for Şener and the other imprisoned journalists. The next hearing in the case is expected to take place on 23 January.

Following last week's decision denying Şener's request for release pending trial, Ferai Tinç, a member of the International Press Institute (IPI)'s Executive Board and the chair of IPI's Turkey National Committee, commented:

“What we are witnessing in this case can be described as a total denial of justice and a direct blow to independent journalism. If it was not, all of the detained journalists would have been freed. This case has become an instrument of intimidation against the entire media environment in the country. The journalists have spent more than 10 months in detention. The detention itself has turned into punishment. We all know that in democracies punishment must come after the verdict.”

IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie said: “Every signature on this petition sends a message to the Turkish government that attacks on press freedom are unacceptable. IPI and its subsidiary, the South and East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), urge supporters of free media and freedom of expression around the world to add their names and help our imprisoned World Press Freedom Hero – and by extension the dozens of other journalists imprisoned in Turkey.”

To support Nedim Şener by adding your name to the petition, please click here.

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