Baransu case prompts Turkey to lift media bans?



In a move that confirmed the growing restrictions and pressure on the Turkish media, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has said his government is ready to remove bans that have been imposed on media in the country, Today’s Zaman reports:

Speaking at the TV Journalism Workshop organized by the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) and the Medya Derneği (Media Association) in İstanbul on Saturday, Kurtulmuş said: “The Medya Derneği is organizing this workshop in order to eliminate the bans on the media in particular. To achieve this, we are ready to fulfill whatever responsibility rests on our shoulders.”

The move follows closely on an open letter from a distinguished array of academics and journalists to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu asking for imprisoned journalist Mehmet Baransu [above] to be released:

In a press release on Friday, Andrew Finkel from Global Muckraking spoke on behalf of the journalists and said: “Baransu went on to be the controversial source of articles used to indict senior members of the Turkish military for planning a coup. The government’s enthusiasm to support those accusations waxed and waned according to political convenience. The result is that Baransu is very much the neglected prisoner of conscience in Turkey. It is a sad indication of how polarized Turkish society remains when advocates of freedom of expression are selective in whose freedoms they chose to defend.”

All journalists are contributors to “Global Muckraking,” a well-regarded anthology on investigative journalism edited by Anya Schiffren of Columbia University.

Also pointing to the arrested editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet daily, Can Dündar, and the paper’s Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gül, Finkel [a former Reagan-Fascell fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy] added: “It is not to detract from the injustice being perpetrated against Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, of Cumhuriyet newspaper, to see Baransu’s treatment as being equally shameful. He [Baransu] has been in prison for 11 months without even the charges against him, in the interests of state security, being revealed. He made a court appearance in the city of Mersin where he was made to sleep in a toilet cubicle which his lawyers describe, technically, as torture.”

Finkel said that is why the letter states, “The case against him reeks of revenge not justice.”


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