Journalist Merdan Yanardağ, who is working as the editor-in-chief for Turkish TELE1 channel, has been arrested on 27 June 2023, after making televised remarks regarding the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terror organization Abdullah Öcalan. Yanardağ faced charges of “praising the crime and the criminal” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” due to his statements 25 June 2023 on the TELE1 channel. Following his arrest, Yanardağ organized a live broadcast to address the reactions and clarify that certain parts of the program were selectively shared on social media, distorting the overall context.
The authority imposed a seven-day broadcast suspension and an administrative fine to TELE1 TV for allegedly “glorifying terrorists” based on remarks made by the outlet’s editor-in-chief.
In response to the case, journalist associations criticized the penalties imposed by Turkey’s authorities, describing them as a suspension of freedom of expression.
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) demands the immediate release of Yanardağ and strongly condemns the penalties imposed on TELE1 TV, considering them a clear violation of freedom of expression and the press. SEEMO calls on the regulatory authority to uphold its duty to protect and promote freedom of expression, ensuring a vibrant media environment that encourages open dialogue and the free flow of ideas. It is essential to respect the crucial role that media plays in a democratic society and safeguard the rights of journalists to express their opinions and report on matters of public interest without fear of reprisal or undue restrictions.
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