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Tell the Turkish government that democracy requires a free media

Demonstrators raise their chained hands during a protest over the arrest of journalists Can Dundar and Erdem Gul in Ankara, Turkey, 27 November 2015
Demonstrators raise their chained hands during a protest over the arrest of journalists Can Dundar and Erdem Gul in Ankara, Turkey, 27 November 2015

Reuters/Umit Bektas

Reporters without Borders is asking the international community to sign on to urge the immediate release of imprisoned editor Can Dündar and bureau chief Erdem Gül of Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, along with the many journalist peers imprisoned in Turkey for performing their work or expressing their views.

Dündar and Gül were arrested in November 2015 and are facing life imprisonment over charges of spying and propaganda production. The charges relate to a story they published last May that accused Turkey's National Intelligence Organization of delivering arms to rebel groups in Syria, and was accompanied by video and photo evidence. Turkish President Erdoğan promised at the time that they would “pay a heavy price” for writing the story.

Since 2008 conditions for free expression have plummeted in Turkey, which has fallen from 102 to 149 out of 180 countries on Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index.

The incident follows the forcible closure of multiple opposition media outlets just days before the 2015 federal election, in which police used tear gas and water cannons to storm media offices and disconnect television feeds. In December 2015 there were 33 journalists imprisoned in Turkey – amongst the highest number of any country in the world.

It is time to let President Erdoğan know that respecting Turkey's proud democratic traditions requires respecting the right to free expression. National security legislation must not be abused to persecute those that publish material unfavourable to the standing government.

Sign RSF's petition urging immediate release for and dropping of all charges against Dündar, Gül and their journalist colleagues, and tell the Turkish government that these violations are unacceptable to the global community.

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