Monday

18th Dec 2017

European foundation demands release of Turkish journalist

  • "There was clearly no evidence" that Aysegul Parildak is a terrorist, said Vigdis Freedom Foundation's chairwoman (Photo: DR)

A European foundation is calling for the release of a young Turkish journalist, jailed for seven-and-a-half years as a 'terrorist', in the latest of a series of detentions of reporters under president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Aysegul Parildak was jailed last week after being found guilty of being a "member of an armed terrorist organisation." The 27-year old reporter covered court affairs for the daily Zaman newspaper, and was arrested in August 2016 while taking a law exam.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Prosecutors accused her of aiding the failed military putsch against Erdogan in July 2016.

Now the Oslo-based Vigdis Freedom Foundation has awarded Parildak its inaugural Shahnoush award, to be given every year to a female prisoner of conscience whose courage had not been internationally acknowledged.

Speaking to EUobserver from Oslo, founder and the chairwoman of the foundation, Anne Christine Kroepelien said "There was clearly no evidence that she is a terrorist. She is a law student who has a part-time job in a newspaper that was perfectly legal at the time and who reported from court."

Kroepelien herself attended one of Parildak's hearings, and said she was shocked by the jail sentence.

Kroepelien said the Foundation would start a campaign for Parıldak's release - and criticised the EU's reaction so far.

"I think European reaction is inadequate. President Erdogan is continuing his crackdown on everybody who has an opinion that differs from his. This is clearly against all the liberal values that are dear to Europe."

The only evidence submitted to the court against Parıldak was the fact that she was working for Zaman, plus her tweets and a smartphone messaging application called ByLock.

Turkish authorities seized Zaman in March 2016 and appointed pro-government trustees, four months before the coup and closed the newspaper right after the failed putsch.

Sources who followed the court case told EUobserver that judge ruled on the case solely on the existence of the ByLock app on her mobile. The judge later discarded her tweets as evidence.

However, sources who want to remain anonymous said the evidence submitted to the court about ByLock was dubious and would be inadmissable in an international court.

In May 2017 Parıldak was briefly released, pending trial, in a unanimous decision by court judges. After an online campaign on social media against the judges, the decision was reversed in a matter of hours and she was again imprisoned.

Reacting to Parıldak's sentence, an EU spokesperson told EUobserver that Turkey, as a candidate country, needs to respect the highest democratic standards and practices, including in the area of freedom of expression and media.

One more jailed journalist

On the same day Parildak was sentenced, a veteran journalist from Cumhuriyet was sentenced to three years imprisonment for a single tweet.

Oguz Guven, the editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet's website, was arrested in May for a tweet which he deleted after only 55 seconds, and held in jail for a month. He was then released, and has not yet been re-arrested to serve his three year sentence.

Turkey, an accession candidate country to the EU, is now by far the biggest jailer of journalists on earth, ahead of China.

An EU Commission delegation visited Ankara last month to discuss judicial affairs but could not get any promises on the release of journalists, or amending legislation to safeguard freedom of expression, EUobserver was told.

No harder line is expected against Turkey until at least April 2018, when a new progress report on Turkey is published.

Rebecca Harms, a German Green MEP who attended Cumhuriyet's hearings in Istanbul told this website she was very angry and sad to learn about Parıldak's sentence.

Harms said her only crime - like hundreds of her colleagues - was to work as a journalist.

Criticising the EU's thus far muted reaction, Harms called on the Council of Europe and the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg to finally accept and rule on complaints it was receiving from Turkish journalists.

"This sentence reveals again that the Turkish justice system has failed," she said.

One report from the European Parliament on Turkey has already called for the suspension of current accession talks.

According to the 2017 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, Turkey stands at 155 out of 180 countries, after Ethiopia and Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Stockholm Center for Freedom has estimated the number of arrested journalists in Turkey at 230.

On November 29, this article was amended to clarify Guven's arrest details.

EU summit shifts mood on Turkey amid aid cuts

EU leaders at their summit spent some three hours deliberating on relations with Turkey before asking the EU commission to come up with a plan on cutting and reorienting some €4.5 billion in pre-accession aid.

Two EU states break ranks on Jerusalem

Hungary and the Czech Republic have broken EU ranks on US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital despite warnings it could bring back 'darker times'.

Feature

Lebanon crisis overshadows EU aid for Syrian refugees

Lebanon hosts over one million Syrian refugees, and has received some €1bn in EU funds. Caught in a geo-political tug of war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Lebanon's domestic politics have cast a longer shadow over its Syrian 'guests'.

EU complicit in Libyan torture, says Amnesty

The EU and its members states have signed up to 'Faustian pact' with Libyan authorities in the their effort to prevent migrant and refugee boat departures towards Italy, says Amnesty International.

News in Brief

  1. EU adopts 'track-and-trace' tobacco system
  2. Luxembourg appeals Amazon tax decision
  3. EU leaders agree to open phase 2 of Brexit talks
  4. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  5. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  6. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  7. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  8. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Catalonia, Brexit, and Uber on EU agenda This WEEK
  2. Macron and Merkel take tough line on Poland
  3. Eurozone future needs structural reforms, EU leaders told
  4. Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June
  5. EU stresses unity as it launches next phase of Brexit talks
  6. Polish PM ready for EU sanctions scrap
  7. Dutchman to lead powerful euro working group
  8. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  2. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  3. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  4. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  6. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  7. Bio-Based IndustriesRegistration for BBI JU Stakeholder Forum about to close. Last chance to register!
  8. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  9. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  10. EU2017EEEAS Calls for Eastern Partnership Countries to Enter EU Market Through Estonia
  11. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know
  12. World Vision7 Million Children at Risk in the DRC: Donor Meeting to Focus on Saving More Lives