No fewer than 48 journalists will appear in court this week in Turkey as part of the country’s ongoing media crackdown, according to press freedom campaign group Reporters Without Borders.
The group, also known as Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), has condemned what it said were “baseless charges” against the journalists and has called for the their immediate release.
Three separate trials are to take place this week, according to RSF, who added that “barely a week goes by in Turkey without journalists being arrested or tried”.
Six journalists who published information obtained by a group of hackers from the emails of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law and energy minister Berat Albayrak face trial today.
Three of them have already been detained for ten months.
All six face charges of distorting the content of the leaked emails, divulging state secrets and aiding terrorists by “creating a negative perception of the authorities”, according to RSF.
The reports included information on a petroleum trade deal with Iraqi Kurdistan, a crackdown on a protest movement and the government’s “subjugation” of the Turkish media, the organisation said.
The trial of 29 journalists accused of being members of the Gülen Movement – those who follow US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who was accused of being behind the attempted coup in Turkey in July last year – also resumes today.
More than 20 of them have been held provisionally for over a year and 13 are also charged with “trying to overthrow the government and constitutional order”, said RSF.
Another 13 journalists are due to appear in court tomorrow for participating in a campaign of solidarity with Özgür Gündem, a Kurdish newspaper that had been the victim of judicial persecution.
Turkey is ranked 155th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.
President Erdogans’s crackdown on the media and move towards greater authoritarian rule has been a direct response to the failed coup against him.
Around 150 media outlets have been closed and more than 100 journalists are currently in prison.
Picture: Reuters/Osman Orsal