"If journalists are sent to prison on terrorist charges, then that country's policies should be questioned" said Arne König, President of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), in an interview with Evrensel ('Universal') newspaper.
While 40 journalists were in detention last spring, König underlined that this figure increased to 70 within one year. In his opinion, laws are being used to restrict freedom of press in Turkey.
"Legal perception and laws must be reviewed"
König was interviewed by the Turkish journalist Murat Kuseyri. The EFJ President said that if 70 journalists are in prison in a country, the most pressing issue was a review of that country's legal system.
"It is one of the major tasks of a government to perform justice. The understanding of law and the law itself should be reviewed in a country where 70 journalists are in prison and 700 journalists are standing trial. Anti-democratic provisions in the Anti-Terror Law and other regulations enable the courts to prosecute journalists and send them to prison".
"There is not democracy in Turkey"
König emphasized that no country could just say "this is my internal business" and go along with violating human rights and press freedom. He said that incidents have shown a lack of democracy in Turkey and that there is quite a long way to go before democracy will be ensured.
"If Turkey continues to keep journalists in prison, we will not be able to establish normal relations with Turkey and we cannot see it as a country we would like to spend our summer holidays in", König added.
"Europe fails to fulfil its responsibility"
According to König, the public in Europe was not sufficiently informed about the incidents in Turkey. He expressed his concern that Turkey is not as much under pressure of the outside world anymore as it used to be in the past. In his opinion, the member states of the European Union have been manipulative in terms of press freedom.
"We see that there are countries that are still violating press freedom in central and eastern Europe. After the September 11 attacks, many countries applied regulations that restricted press freedom and freedom of expression. We have to clean up in front of our own house first in order to be able to apply real pressure on Turkey".
"We will organize demonstrations and protest actions in Europe"
König announced that demonstrations and protest actions would be organized in Europe in the coming days to object restrictions of press freedom and freedom of expression in Turkey. He said that European journalists should actually come to Turkey and directly participate in the local demonstrations.
EFJ President König declared that a conference is being prepared in co-operation with the Human Rights Support Committee in Turkey that will mainly be attended by journalists from Turkey. Moreover, he said that representatives of the Swedish parliament are going to visit Turkey to monitor the incidents directly. (EKN/VK)
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