The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) strongly condemns the recent sentencing and detention of Merdan Yanardağ, born 1959, the editor-in-chief of Tele1 TV (https://tele1.com.tr/canli-yayin/) and a writer for Bir Gün (https://www.birgun.net/), in Türkiye / Turkey.
Yanardağ was sentenced on 4 October 2023 by a Penal Court in Istanbul, Türkiye / Turkey to two years and six months in prison for “propaganda for a terrorist organization” following criticism of the prison isolation of the life sentenced leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan, during a television program. PKK, founded 1984, is listed as a terrorist organization internationally by numerous countries, including United States, Canada, Australia, Japan and most countries in Europe.
Additional there were charges of “insulting the president of Turkey” due to his articles published in Bir Gün. According to the prosecutor Yanardağ in his articles mentioned the name of the president and made different accusations.
According information published by BIANET, after finding the crime established by the court, it decided to increase the sentence by half due to Yanardağ’s statement being broadcast on TV. The verdict will be implemented after the finalization of the judgment, so the court also ordered Yanardağ’s release.
Yanardağ spent more than 3 months in a pre-trial detention. He was arrested on 26 June 2023.
The trial and sentencing of Yanardağ have raised again concerns about press freedom and freedom of expression in Türkiye / Turkey.
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) stands in solidarity with Yanardağ and all journalists facing legal cases for their work. We call on Turkish authorities to ensure that journalists can work without fear of arrest or imprisonment.
It is essential that Türkiye / Turkey upholds the principles of democracy and free speech, which are fundamental to a free and open society. SEEMO urges Turkish authorities to release Yanardağ and drop all charges against him, allowing him to continue his work as a journalist.
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is a regional non-governmental, non-profit network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in Southeast, South, East and Central Europe. SEEMO members are in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova (with the territory of Transdnestria), Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Türkiye / Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Austria, Italy, Vatican and San Marino have a special status in SEEMO. SEEMO has over 3000 individual members, and additional media as corporate members.
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