Warning on Turkey after new arrests and magazine closure

by Jane Whyatt

Turkey's press freedom crisis continues. A German radio reporter and a Turkish national newspaper journalist are the latest media workers to be detained.

Erdogan Turkey 900X600 After the "state of emergency" in Turkey, the crackdown on civil society and media freedom has not ended. Photo: ECPMF

Mesale Tolu, who has been a German citizen since 2007, is being held in the Bakirköy Women's prison. She is accused of belonging to a terrorist organisation and spreading terrorist propaganda. Her arrest on 6 May prompted the press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) to issue a warning to all journalists of Turkish heritage and call on the UN Human Rights Council to intervene.

There are currently a reported six German nationals detained in Turkey, four of them also with Turkish citizenship.

RSF's Christian Mihr says: "After the imprisonment of Deniz Yücel, this case shows that Erdogan is following the same pattern against foreign journalists. The are being detained under trumped-up pretexts and silenced in this way. Mesale Tolu must be released immediately."

Cumhuriyet Online journalist Ozgün Güven was detained on 16 May. It is believed his arrest is connected to a tweet.

Meanwhile, after nine months in prison, brothers Ahmet and Mehmet Altan will see their case go to trial on 19 June.

According to the platform #FreeTurkeyJournalists, the number of media workers who have been arrested in Turkey since the coup attempt of July 2016 now stands at 163.

The authorities have also closed a magazine, Kültür ve Sanat, for publishing a cover photograph of a cat, pictured in front of anti-Erdogan graffiti in an Istanbul street. It refers to a review of a documentary about the city's stray cats.