The arrest of Fırat Can Arslan, who works for Mezopotamya Agency (MA) (http://mezopotamyaajansi35.com/), has raised concerns about press freedom in Türkiye / Turkey. Arslan was detained on 25 July 2023. He is the first journalist to be apprehended under Law No. 3713, which dates back to 1991, on charges of “inciting the public to hatred and enmity against those involved in the fight against terrorism.” This development is linked to his reporting on the transfer of two prosecutors from Diyarbakır to Samsun, Türkiye / Turkey.
Prosecutors were responsible for indicting 16 journalists (18 on trial) who were imprisoned from June 2022 to July 2023. While their names and roles were mentioned in a Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) Decree, it did not specify the nature of their investigations and prosecutions. However, the indictment alleged that the imprisoned journalists were associated with TV channels linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and accused prosecutors of participating in “counter-terrorism” activities based on this.
Fırat Can Arslan faces a prison sentence of 1 to 3 years, with the initial hearing scheduled for 31 October 2023. Arslan’s arrest stems from his report on the prosecutor’s transfer and has sparked fears of growing restrictions on the media in Türkiye / Turkey.
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) strongly condemns this incident, emphasizing the critical importance of protecting journalists’ rights and ensuring their safety as they carry out their vital work.
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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