Five members of the European Parliament commit to support five imprisoned journalists in Turkey

 

Five members of the European Parliament (MEPs) called for the release of journalists imprisoned in Turkey with a special “twinning” initiative launched on October 24 in Strasbourg.

The MEPs committed to support five journalists held in pre-trial detention in Turkey by linking with them.

According to a press release issued on Tuesday, Fabio Massimo Castaldo (an Italian MEP from Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy) will be twinned, as part of the initiative, with İnan Kızılkaya, former news editor of the shuttered pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem who has been in prison for more than a year.

Tanja Fajon (a Slovenian MEP from Socialists and Democrats) will be twinned with former Zaman columnist Şahin Alpay, who was arrested at his home early in the morning of July 27, 2016.

Rebecca Harms (a German MEP from Greens/European Free Alliance) will be twinned with Cumhuriyet reporter Ahmet Şık, who has been in jail since late December.

Jordi Solé (a Spanish MEP from Greens/European Free Alliance) will be twinned with Abdullah Kılıç, former columnist for the shuttered daily newspaper Meydan and a broadcast coordinator for Habertürk TV, while Michaela Šojdrová (Czech Republic, European People’s Party) will be twinned with Akın Atalay, chief executive officer of Cumhuriyet.

“By offering support to journalists in jail, we want to highlight the personal stories that should never be forgotten,” Castaldo said of the initiative.

“These five cases are just some of many. Today, we are calling for the suffering of journalists, and their families and friends, to end now,” said Šojdrová, another supporter of the initiative.

There are more than 150 journalists behind bars in Turkey, according to a P24 list compiled from open sources.

“There cannot be an effective political debate when journalists cannot report or question political leaders without fear of harassment or arrest,” MEP Fajon said. “As Turkey’s political situation worsens, it remains imperative to offer support to and speak about those imprisoned for their journalism.”

The European Parliament has repeatedly condemned the imprisonment of journalists in Turkey and has called for their immediate release, issuing the European Parliament resolution on the situation of journalists in Turkey in October 2016 and the European Parliament resolution on the 2016 Commission Report on Turkey in July 2017.

“We have a duty to demonstrate international solidarity with every individual detained in Turkey for exercising their free expression,” Solé, who will be twinned with Kılıç, said.

“We support their immediate release and hope they can resume their important work for the future of Turkey,” said Harms.

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