Amnesty on Arrest of Vice Journalists: “unsubstantiated, outrageous and bizarre” [updated 9/4/15]

The crackdown on journalists in Turkey continues.  Earlier this week, another wave of journalists were summarily sacked, apparently for writing reports critical of the government (an issue that we have repeatedly highlighted on this blog).

Late yesterday, journalists from Vice News were charged by prosecutors with “aiding a terrorist organization” under the country’s dangerously vague terror statutes.  Amnesty International has condemned their arrest and called for their immediate release.


Amnesty noted:

Turkey has a dismal record of abusing its anti-terror laws in order to suppress dissent, frequently targeting journalists. Frederike Geerdink, an international journalist based in Diyarbakir was prosecuted earlier this year in a baseless case, accused of “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation”. She was acquitted by a local court in April,but the case remains pending on appeal.

Journalists in Turkey have come under increased obstructions while filming or reporting from the region, with the escalation of violence between the PKK and the security forces that has occurred since 20 July 2015, effectively ending a three-year cease-fire and a fragile peace process.

Andrew Gardner

Andrew Gardner

Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey Researcher, said:

This is yet another example of the Turkish authorities suppressing the reporting of stories that are embarrassing to them. They should release the journalists immediately.

It is completely proper that that journalists should cover this important story. The decision to detain the journalists was wrong, while the allegation of assisting Islamic state is unsubstantiated, outrageous and bizarre.

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, Gardner said, called the prosecutions of the journalists “a blatant case of punishing legitimate journalism using anti-terrorism laws” and recalled that “authorities have long used anti-terrorism laws to suppress dissent and target journalists, but journalists from Turkey have borne the brunt of this repression. The fact that international journalists have been targeted is a sign of further deterioration.”

“Violence between the PKK and the security forces has been escalating, as have human rights abuses in this context. It’s obviously a story that they government does not want to be told,” Gardner said.

[Updated 9/1/15]

Andrew Gardner discusses these events on Huff Post Live

[Updated 9/4/15]

The two British Vice journalists were released yesterday, but a third is still under arrest and held in pre-trial detention.  I discuss these developments on Amnesty-USA’s main blog Human Rights Now.

Howard Eissenstat
St. Lawrence University

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