EU Rapporteur Piri will bring case of jailed journalists to European Parliament

“I cannot talk on the behalf of [the] European Union. But I am here as a representative of [the] European Parliament [EP] and today the reason I am here is to reveal the support of members of [the] EP for you [Turkey’s critical media outlets],” Piri told members of the press.

Piri stated that she had held dozens of meetings with Turkish authorities in Ankara in the past couple of days and she was systematically told that the jailed Journalists are not being tried because of their journalism activities.

“I will take this issue to the summit of European Union leaders in Brussels. I will also talk about this during my meetings with other political groups in Strasbourg. I hope we will get results as soon as possible. We are talking about people’s lives here,” Piri stated.

According to the Press for Freedom (OiB) platform’s report, there were 31 jailed journalists in Turkey as of Nov. 28. This group includes prominent figures such as Samanyolu Broadcasting Group President Hidayet Karaca, Cumhuriyet daily Editor-in-Chief Can Dundar, Cumhuriyet Ankara representative Erdem Gul, investigative journalist Mehmet Baransu, Nokta magazine editors Cevheri Guven and Murat Capan, as well as Mohammed Ismael Rasool, an Iraqi journalist who was working for UK-based VICE News.

While a total of 77 cases were filed against journalists between March and December 2014, this figure rose to 157 between January and November of 2015, the report said. It added that a total of 179 legal actions were taken against journalists in the last nine months of 2014, a figure which rose to 305 in the first 11 months of 2015.

Kenes: I am free, for now

During her visit to Today’s Zaman headquarters, Piri had a quick word with former Today’s Zaman Editor-in-Chief Bulent Kenes and expressed her gratitude at seeing Kenes “as a free man.”

In response, Kenes told Piri that he was free “for now.”

Approximately nine hours after this conversation took place, Kenes announced on Twitter that he had been detained by police officers from the İstanbul Police Department’s Counterterrorism Unit at around 5:45 a.m. on Friday at the İstanbul’s Ataturk airport due to a “routine, procedural matter.” Kenes was taken to the İstanbul Police Department after a health check at the Haseki Training and Research Hospital.

Kenes was released at around 11:00 on the same day. On Wednesday, Kenes, along with two Today’s Zaman editors, Sevgi Akarcesme and Celil Sagır, were each given suspended prison sentences of more than a year for insulting Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in their tweets on Twitter, in a move that only contributed to the sense of deteriorating media freedoms in Turkey.

The Ankara 32nd Criminal Court of First Instance announced the ruling in a case that was filed by Davutoglu’s lawyers against the three journalists who were all included in the same legal complaint, which was apparently filed on Dec. 29, 2014.