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London, 4 February 2015

PEN condemns ‘terrorist propaganda’ charges against Dutch journalist

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Turkish authorities have brought a raft of high-profile cases under the Anti-Terror Law in recent years. Journalists have been particularly vulnerable to this problematic piece of legislation.

A charge of “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation” brought against Dutch journalist Frederike Geerdink is yet another sign of the worsening climate for freedom of expression in the country, and should be dropped,  PEN International said today.

The charges against Geerdink reportedly relate to posts she made on Facebook and Twitter and to articles she wrote for Diken, an online, Turkish-language magazine. Geerdink faces up to five years in prison if found guilty of the charges. PEN International condemns the judicial harassment of Geerdink for her legitimate expression as a journalist and calls on the Turkish authorities to drop the charge against her immediately and unconditionally and to reform the draconian Anti-Terror Law.

‘The fact that the application of this law has been extended to posts made by journalists on social media is indicative of the serious deterioration in freedom of expression that Turkey is experiencing at present,’ said Carles Torner, Executive Director of PEN International.

‘PEN reiterates the call it made to the former president of Turkey Abdullah Gul in 2012 to comprehensively reform the Anti-Terror Law (ATL) and bring it in line with international standards’.

Geerdink’s Diyarbakır home was raided by heavily armed members of the Diyarbakır Police Department Anti-Terror Unit on 6 January 2015, when she was taken in for questioning by the Diyarbakır public prosecutor. She was released later that day but on 2 February 2015 she was formally charged under Article 7/2 of Turkey’s draconian Anti-Terror Law after a Diyarbakır court accepted the indictment against her. Geerdink is currently free pending trial. The first hearing of her trial will be held in Diyarbakır on 8 April 2015.

Turkish authorities have brought a raft of high-profile cases under the Anti-Terror Law in recent years. Journalists have been particularly vulnerable to this problematic piece of legislation, with some of PEN International’s most serious cases of concern in Turkey, including journalists Ahmet Şık, Nedim Şener, Mustafa Balbay and Zeynep Kuray, as well as 46 journalists from the Kurdish press, all currently on trial under the Anti-Terror Law.

Geerdink is a Diyarbakır-based Dutch journalist who has reported extensively on Turkey’s Kurdish minority since 2012. She has a personal blog, Kurdish Matters, where she writes about the Kurdish issue in Turkey and has written a book in Dutch about Turkey’s Kurds titled De Jongens Zijn Dood (The Boys Are Dead).

For further information please contact Alev Yaman at PEN International Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: alev.yaman@pen-international.org

 

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