The weekend before before the SPOT (Solidarity with the People of Turkey) delegation arrived in Istanbul, the city was in the grip of freezing temperatures and the heaviest snow-falls for 20 years with over 2 feet (65 cm) of snow paralysing the city. A few days later when we arrived on 11 January, much of the snow and ice had thawed, but it was obvious that the country’s democracy was still in the grip of a deep freeze and the temperature was plunging.
The IFJ/EFJ, English Pen and other trade unions and press freedom organisations have called for the immediate release of leading investigative journalist Ahmet Sik, who was taken into custody in Istanbul on 29 December. Following his detention Ahmet Şık has now been charged. He is accused of making terrorist propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) and the Gülen movement (FETÖ), which the government has blamed for the failed coup attempt in July 2016.
In my blog of 25 September ‘Defending journalism in Turkey’ I described the interview I gave with Ugur Güç, TGS president, on an evening news programme on IMC TV. We discussed the increasing number of prosecutions against journalists and during the interview presenter Banu Güven, mentioned that their television station had been threatened with closure. Within two weeks the station had been taken off air, their equipment seized and the journalists and other media and support workers joined the growing numbers of unemployed, reported on the EFJ web site at 2,500 – see http://europeanjournalists.org/blog/2016/10/24/turkey-107-journalists-in-prison-and-2500-others-left-unemployed/ of 24 October. Recently I received an eye witness account of the raid leading up to the closure of IMC TV which is reproduced below: