Turkey: Evrensel Daily correspondent Cemil Uğur is Arrested on Terror Charges
PEN is seriously concerned about the charges brought against Evrensel Daily reporter, Cemil Uğur, under Article 314/2 of the Penal Code ‘being a member of a terror organization’ and Article 220 ‘making propaganda for an illegal organization’. Uğur was initially detained on 23 August 2016, along with fellow Evrensel Daily reporter Halil İbrahim Polat as the pair were reporting on ‘Freedom Watch’, an event held in solidarity with imprisoned writers, outside a prison in Mersin. The two journalists were released on bail after spending 16 days in detention. Their lawyer reported to PEN International that whilst in detention both journalists suffered ill-treatment and were subjected to insults and death threats.
On 6 October 2016 whilst attending a police station to request permission to leave the province, as required under an imposed travel ban, Uğur was informed that a warrant for his arrest was pending and he was immediately taken into custody. His attorney commented that the arrest was made after a prosecutor filed an objection to his release on bail.
PEN calls for Cemil Uğur’s immediate and unconditional release whom we consider is being held solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.
While recognizing the right of the Turkish authorities to bring those responsible for crimes committed during the attempted coup of 15 July 2016 to justice, PEN International calls on the Turkish authorities to safeguard freedom of expression, human rights and respect their obligations under international law during the declared state of emergency and to release all journalists and writers held solely in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression. According to PEN International’s records, as of 13 October 2016, at least 125 writers and journalists have been arrested, detained without charge or are awaiting trial in Turkey. The full list of names can be found here.
Send a message of support:
Please consider sending letters or postcards in a show of support and solidarity addressed to Cemil Uğur, who is being held in Mersin E Type Closed Prison:
Mersin E Tipi Kapalı Cezaevi
Address: Çilek Mh. 134. Cadde No:76 Akdeniz/Mersin
Tel: (+90 324) 221 73 19; Fax: (+90 324) 221 76 96
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Send Appeals to the Turkish authorities:
- Calling for Cemil Uğur's immediate and unconditional release whom we consider is being held solely in connection with the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression;
- Calling for all detained writers and journalists to have access to lawyers and to be released if they are not to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence and tried promptly in accordance with international fair trial standards;
- While recognising that the Turkish authorities have the right and responsibility to investigate those suspected of crimes in relation to the failed coup, calling on them not to use the state of emergency to crack down on peaceful dissent, civil society, media and education;
Please send appeals reiterating PEN’s calls (listed above) to:
Mersin 2. Criminal Court of Justice
İhsaniye Mh. Zeytinlibahçe Caddesi 33070 Akdeniz-Mersin
Tel: (+90 324) 232 1845
Minister of Justice, Bekir Bozdağ
Republic of Turkey Ministry of Justice
Milli Mudafa Caddesi, 06659 Kızılay-Ankara
Tel: (+90 312) 417 77 70
Fax: (+90 312) 419 3370
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Tel : (+90 312) 525 55 55
Fax :(+90 312) 525 58 31
Please copy your appeals to the Embassy of Turkey in your country. A list of embassies can be found here.
Please send us copies of your letters or information about other activities and of any responses received.
Cemil Uğur (born 20 July 1995) is a journalist, Mersin correspondent of pro-Kurdish daily, Evrensel.
After the failed coup of 15 July 2016, a state of emergency was declared. Since the imposition of the state of emergency, Turkey’s Council of Ministers has issued four decrees, granting the Turkish authorities wide-ranging powers. A number of these affect the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, and have been used to facilitate the arrest and harassment of media personnel, including:
- An extension of the period during which an individual may be detained without charge, from 48 hours to 30 days; the decrees also restrict access to legal counsel for detainees and extend the period before a detainee must have access to a lawyer to five days
- Empowering higher levels of administration to shut down any media organisation
- Enabling the government to impose curfews, ban public meetings, gatherings and rallies, and restrict access to private and public space.
- Granting law enforcement agencies the power to stop and search people and vehicles without judicial authorisation and to confiscate suspicious materials.
Over 100 media outlets have been closed as well as at least 29 publishing houses since the coup attempt. At least 90 journalists have been arrested, bringing the total number of media workers detained in Turkey on charges related to their exercise of the right to freedom of expression to 125, primarily on terror-related charges. These numbers exclude countless other journalists held in temporary detention. There are credible reports of torture and ill-treatment of those in police custody following the suspension of the European Convention on Human Rights.
PEN believes that most, if not all, of these arrests, detentions and closures of media and publishing outlets are arbitrary, as they are not based on clear evidence of involvement in a crime, and the use of emergency measures in these instances are not justified by the current situation. Since July, the crackdown on media reporting on Kurdish issues and the conflict in South East Turkey has intensified. 17 journalists have been arrested on terror charges entirely un-related to the coup. All except one of these journalists are from media outlets considered to be pro-Kurdish. PEN International is seriously concerned that Turkey is abusing the state of emergency to limit reporting on matters in the public interest, including on human rights violations and abuses committed by state and non-state actors in South-East Turkey.
PEN calls on the Turkish authorities not to use the state of emergency to restrict freedom of expression, and to revoke Turkey’s derogations from international human rights instruments safeguarding this right. Turkey must ensure that investigations into those responsible for the coup are limited to those alleged to be directly involved in criminal activity, are based on evidence, and that due process is observed in line with international standards on the right to a fair trial.
For further information please contact Sahar Halaimzai at PEN International, Koops Mill Mews, 162-164 Abbey Street, London SE1 2AN, Tel. + 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: Sahar.firstname.lastname@example.org