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Free expression community joins forces on Turkey hearings

This statement was originally published on article19.org on 14 February 2017.

Ahead of a number of landmark verdicts and hearings in criminal cases against journalists in Turkey this week, international free expression organisations ARTICLE 19, PEN International and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) are urging the Turkish judiciary to uphold international fair trial and freedom of expression standards.

The judicial proceedings come at a time of profound repression of freedom of the media with 150 journalists in prison and deep concerns about the quality of justice journalists can expect to face.

"We are deeply concerned by the lack of due process in many cases against writers in Turkey under the State of Emergency where many defendants are currently being held in prolonged pre-charge detention, have yet to see the evidence against them and have extremely curtailed access to their lawyers," said Sarah Clarke of PEN International. "We urge the Turkish judiciary to uphold the fair trial standards guaranteed by Turkey's Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights to which Turkey is a party," she added.

The three international free expression organisations will jointly monitor three hearings over two days this week.

Özgür Gündem Solidarity Case

On Tuesday 14 February the verdicts in the cases of 22 of the journalists who had been participating in a solidarity action with the daily newspaper Özgür Gündem are likely to be announced including Inan Kizilkaya, Hasan Cemal, Kumru Başer, Nadire Mater, Can Dündar and Necmiye Alpay.

Oda TV Case

On Wednesday 15 February hearings in the cases of Oda TV trial, dating as far back as 2011 including prominent journalists, Ahmet Şık, Nedim Şener, , Soner Yalçın, Barış Pehlivan and Barış Terkoğlu will take place.

Taraf Case

Also on 15 February, the third hearing in the trial of journalists and editors affiliated with the Taraf newspaper will take place, including Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Baransu, Yasemin Çongar, Yıldıray Oğur and Tuncay Opçin.

"These three cases represent a wide spectrum of different viewpoints in Turkey; but what unites them is the violation of their right to freedom of expression,"; said Katie Morris, Head of Europe and Central Asia Programme at ARTICLE 19. "The Turkish authorities are pursuing politically-motivated charges to prevent the media [from] holding them to account and it is crucial that we stand together in opposing this attack on human rights," she added.

"These three cases exemplify the systematic abuse of terrorism and anti-State charges against critical journalists," said Erol Önderoğlu, RSF Turkey representative. "Although this practice has been widespread for decades in Turkey, never has it been so oppressive as today, under the state of emergency. We urge once again the authorities to put Turkish legislation in line with its obligations under the European Covenant on Human Rights and the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights."

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