We are accused of ‘spying’. The president said [our action is] ‘treason’. We are not traitors, spies, or heroes; we are journalists. What we have done here was a journalistic activity. We came here to defend journalism. We came here to defend the right of the public to obtain the news and their right to know if their government is feeding them lies. We came here to show and to prove that governments cannot engage in illegal activity and defend this.
Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief, Can Dündar.
They have been put in jail simply for their factual reporting on the secret arms transfer to Syria, which undoubtedly constitutes a liability for the [ruling] AKP government. Their arrest constitutes an unprecedented degradation in the agonising state of press freedom in Turkey and a new extreme in the criminalisation of journalism in the country.
IPI Turkish National Committee Chair Kadri Gürsel
You and all journalists who seek to report truth in Turkey face tremendous difficulties, but we know that ‘no one can silence reality’. We pledge to keep fighting for the rights of journalists to do their job and uphold the public’s right to share and receive information.
IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi
PRESIDENT ERDOGAN, FREE CUMHURIYET’S EDITORS AND ALL OTHER DETAINED JOURNALISTS!
First as prime minister and now as president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been waging a methodical crackdown on the media in Turkey for years. Erdogan is persecuting journalists of all colours in an increasingly ferocious manner in the name of combating terrorism and defending state security. The Erdogan regime’s arrests, threats and intimidation are unworthy of a democracy.
Can Dündar, the editorinchief of the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, and his Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gül, have been held since the evening of 26 November. They are charged with spying and terrorism because last May they published evidence of arms deliveries by the Turkish intelligence services to Islamist groups in Syria. Both are exemplars of journalism, the search for truth and the defence of freedoms. President Erdogan publicly said that Dündar “will pay for this.” But Cumhuriyet’s journalists just did their job, publishing information that was in the public interest.
At a time when international terrorism is at the centre of everyone’s concerns, it is unacceptable that political prosecutions are used to suppress investigative reporting and exposés. The arrest of these two journalists is the latest extreme to which political use of the Turkish judicial system has been taken. Many journalists have been detained on spurious charges of terrorist propaganda and insulting President Erdogan. The regime has also been using economic levers to put growing pressure on the media, while draconian laws have been passed.
We, public figures, media freedom NGOs and unions, reject the blatant erosion of media freedom in Turkey. The country is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
We appeal to the Turkish authorities to free Can Dündar and Erdem Gül without delay, to drop all charges against them, and to free all other journalists who are currently detained in connection with their journalism or the opinions they have expressed.
We also urge the institutions and governments of democratic countries to face up to their responsibilities to respond to President Erdoğan’s increasingly authoritarian excesses.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ)
International Press Institute (IPI)
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WANIFRA)
World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC)
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
Ethical Journalism Network (EJN)
Turkish Association of Journalists (TGC)
Turkish Union of Journalists (TGS)
Günter Wallraff, journalist, Germany
Noam Chomsky, linguist, USA
Edgar Morin, sociologist, France
Carl Bernstein, journalist, USA
Zülfü Livaneli, writer, Turkey
Ali Dilem, cartoonist, Algeria
Thomas Piketty, economist, France
Claudia Roth, politician, Germany
Paul Steiger, journalist, United States
Kamel Labidi, journalist, Tunisia
John R McArthur, media executive, USA
Fazil Say, pianist, Turkey
Peter Price, media executive, USA
Edwy Plenel, media executive, France
Jim Hoagland, journalist, USA
Ahmet İnsel, political analyst, Turkey
Eric Chol, newspaper editor, France
Nedim Gürsel, writer, Turkey
Cem Özdemir, Green Party co-president, Germany
Hakan Günday, writer, Turkey
Mikis Theodorakis, composer, Greece
Per Westberg, writer, Sweden
Louise Belfrage, journalist, Sweden
Ali Anouzla, journalist, Morocco
Omar Bellouchet, journalist, Algeria
Jack Lang, former government minister, France
Omar Brouksy, journalist, Morocco
Pierre Haski, journalist, France
Jay Weissberg, cinema critic, USA