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Progress report cites free expression as major concern for Turkish accession to EU

(IFJ/IFEX) - October 12, 2012 - The yearly progress report freshly published by the European Commission on potential accession of Turkey to the European Union has found that the reforms initiated by the Turkish authorities in the area of human rights "fall short of a significant improvement regarding freedom of expression."

The "Turkish Progress Report", which includes a section on human rights, criticised the treatment of journalists, including frequent cases of detention for lengthy periods before trial.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European group the Federation of Journalists (EFJ) welcome the report's findings, urging the European Commission to support the on-going campaign by European journalists to secure freedom for all journalists detained on terror charges.

"We have said all along that the charges against our colleagues in Turkey are politically motivated from a government bent on gagging independent media," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "This report's findings have confirmed that view and we look to the EU to pile pressure on Turkey to drop these bogus accusations and free all journalists."

The EFJ says that at least 78 journalists remain in Turkish jails, some of whom are standing trials for terrorism related charges. The Federation is spearheading a Europe-wide campaign to secure their freedom and its representatives regularly attend the trials in Ankara and Istanbul to show solidarity with the detained colleagues.

"This report clearly shows not only the deterioration of press freedom in Turkey but also the deep flaws in the country's justice system which has denied our colleagues their right to due process and fair trial," added EFJ President Arne König. "We are determined to continue our campaign until we secure freedom for each one of them."

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