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Turkish Journalists’ Unions Call for Corruption Reporter’s Release

Eight journalists’ unions have demanded the immediate release of the investigative journalist Tolga Sardan, who was arrested on Wednesday under Turkey’s so-called ‘disinformation’ law for reporting on judicial corruption.

Journalists’ unions have called on Turkish authorities to release Tolga Sardan, a veteran investigative journalist with T24 online gazette, who was arrested on Wednesday after he reported on judicial corruption.

“Tolga Sardan should be released immediately. None of us accept this intimidation. We are journalists, we will continue to do journalism!,” eight journalists’ unions and organisations, including the Journalists’ Union of Turkey, TGS, the Turkish Journalists’ Association and the Press Council said in a joint statement on Thursday.

The joint statement added that the so-called disinformation law accepted last year in parliament is being used to “silence, intimidate and keep the press in line”. The same law was used to arrest Sardan.

“We are journalists, we will continue to shout that journalism is not a crime, to speak out about corruption despite pressure and threats, to practise journalism despite all tyrannic pressures, and to work for the public’s right to receive news,” the joint statement said.

An Istanbul court on Wednesday ordered Sardan’s arrest after a brief police detention. The stated reason is “overt propagation of misleading information” in his reporting on corruption in the Turkish judiciary.

Another journalist, Dincer Gökçe, from Halk TV, was detained on the same day and released under judicial control measures regarding the same charge.

Sardan’s article in T24 online gazette on October 31 explained the content of an intelligence report prepared for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about corruption in the judiciary in Istanbul.

In his response to the allegations against him, Sardan said in his police testimony: “I would like to underline that I only worked as a journalist to inform the public. I absolutely do not accept the accusation made regarding the alleged crime.”

Media organisations and rights groups say that under President Erdogan Turkey has become one of the world’s worst jailers of journalists, also exerting pressure on the media through court cases, fines and prison sentences.

Turkey ranked 165th out of 180 countries in 2023 in the latest press freedom index issued by the watchdog organisation Reporters Without Borders, RSF.

Source : Balkan Insight