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Turkey: Press Crackdown Targets Kurdish Nationalist Outlet
In response to a court decision in Turkey ordering the closure of newspaper Özgür Gündem for “terror propaganda,” and violent police actions against journalists from the paper and IMC TV as they reported on the closure, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The closure of Özgür Gündem and the arrests and raids targeting many of its journalists are profoundly disturbing steps in Turkey’s widening crackdown on the press,” said Daniel Calingaert, executive vice president. “The government should not use its state of emergency as a means to punish people for their opinions. We call on these journalists to be released and for Özgür Gündem to be allowed to publish.”
A court order made public on August 16 accused Özgür Gündem of “terror propaganda” and acting as a media arm for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Özgür Gündem has frequently been targeted for government lawsuits and investigations over the last two years. Activists and journalists who served as its “co-editors-in-chief” earlier this year were targeted in June 2016 for their ties to the paper. This investigation is separate from executive orders following the July 15 coup attempt that have shuttered 131 media outlets and led to the arrest of another 44 journalists.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.