Istanbul: Turkey arrested the local representative of international rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on “terrorist propaganda” charges Monday, in the latest crackdown on the media in the country.
Erol Onderoglu as well as journalist Ahmet Nesin and rights activist and academic Sebnem Korur Fincanci, were charged after taking part in a campaign of solidarity with a pro-Kurdish newspaper in May.
RSF swiftly condemned the charging and detention of the three in a post on Twitter. “Unbelievable low for press freedom in Turkey. Free Erol!” said the tweet from the Paris-based organisation’s eastern Europe and central Asia desk.
About 100 people rallied at the Istanbul courthouse to support the three as they were sent to pre-trial detention, chanting, “We will not bow to pressure”.
The international community has voiced increasing alarm about the erosion of press freedoms in Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rule.
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said it was “appalled” by the detention of the three, describing it as a “most severe blow to freedom of expression and media freedom in Turkey”.
The arrests come despite the European Union pressuring Ankara to reform its terrorism laws to stop prosecuting academics and journalists for publishing so-called “terror propaganda”.
The three had in May taken symbolic control of pro-Kurd newspaper Ozgur Gundem, which has been in the crosshairs of the Turkish authorities for years, sparking a judicial enquiry against them.