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#FreeErol: Journalist, IFEX member arrested over "terrorist propaganda"

IFEX calls for the immediate and unconditional release of journalist and IFEX member Erol Önderoglu. Sign RSF's petition to #FreeErol.

Journalist and IFEX member Erol Önderoglu
Journalist and IFEX member Erol Önderoglu

RSF / Erol Önderoglu

As IFEX, the global network of 104 organisations dedicated to promoting and defending the right to freedom of expression and information, we are deeply concerned about the recent arrest of IFEX Council member and journalist Erol Önderoglu.

Erol Önderoglu has been a champion for freedom of expression for over 20 years. He has worked as a journalist with the IPS Communication Foundation-Bianet since 1995, and has been a correspondent since 1996 with the Paris-based NGO, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Both organisations are active members of the IFEX network.

On 20 June 2016, Turkish authorities arrested our colleague Erol Önderoglu, along with forensic doctor and head of Human Rights Foundation of Turkey Sebnem Korur Fincani and journalist and writer Ahmet Nesin. The three are in pretrial detention. A trial date has not yet been set.

Önderoglu, Fincani, and Nesin are being charged with “terrorist propaganda” for participating in a solidarity campaign in which journalists and activists have been taking turns acting as co-editors of the Kurdish daily newspaper Özgür Gündem to protest its persistent harassment by judicial authorities. They are among 44 journalists and activists who have participated in the solidarity campaign that began on 3 May 2016, World Press Freedom Day.

“Erol Önderoglu is an incredibly informed and engaged member of the IFEX network. The charge of spreading 'terrorist propaganda' rings hollow with who we know him to be – a trusted representative on the IFEX Council, a champion of freedom of expression and press freedom and committed journalist. While his detention is a horrible blow to his family, friends and colleagues, it also serves as an indictment for Turkish authorities who appear increasingly intent on shutting down any voices that don't serve their agenda.”
- Annie Game, Executive Director of IFEX.

The arrest of Önderoglu, Fincani, and Nesin appears to be part of a sinister trend in Turkey where proponents of free expression and press freedom are not heard or welcomed, but rounded up and silenced. Turkey must reverse this trend by dropping all charges and immediately and unconditionally releasing these individuals who have committed no crimes, and who are being persecuted for no more than exercising and advocating for their fundamental right to freedom of expression.

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