Turkey: Erdoğan Ensnares Journalists in Political Battle
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PEN American Center condemns the arrests of Turkish journalists in police raids today that apparently targeted media and police officials accused of being aligned with political opponents of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Journalists and media workers, including the editor in chief of leading Turkish daily newspaper Zaman, were arrested on charges including “establishing a terrorist group,” forgery, and slander. Those arrested are said to be linked to Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former ally and now an opponent of Erdoğan’s. A crowd of over 1,000 gathered around the Zaman offices in protest, chanting “The free press cannot be silenced.”
“President Erdoğan appears to be ensnaring journalists in a dragnet attempt to suppress political opposition,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN. “Absent any evidence produced to substantiate these serious charges, including terrorism, Erdoğan seems to be treating journalists and editors who produce unwelcome coverage as political enemies to be stopped at all costs. These actions risk the role of the media and shake the foundations of Turkey’s democracy.”
PEN has a long history of advocating for freedom of expression in Turkey, where journalists and authors who publish on controversial or critical topics often find themselves the target of government harassment.
Founded in 1922, PEN American Center is an association of 3,500 American writers working to bring down barriers to free expression worldwide.