08 September 2015
The arrest of Dutch journalist, Frederike Geerdink, is yet another example of the worsening condition for freedom of expression in Turkey, PEN International, PEN Turkey and PEN Netherlands said today. PEN is calling on the Turkish authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally and for an end to harassment of journalists while they carry out their vital work in the country.
In a message posted to her Twitter account on Sunday, Frederike Geerdink said that she was being held in the town of Yusekova and would be questioned by a prosecutor. She was in the region to cover clashes between police and militants from the the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). A ceasefire in place since 2013 broke down in July.
'Turkey must honour its international treaty obligations and allow both international and domestic journalists to do their essential work without intimidation,' said Marian Botsford Fraser, Chair of PEN International’s Writer in Prison Committee. 'Turkey’s routine use of counter-terrorism legislation against the media is a longstanding cause of concern for PEN. Journalists must be free to report internally and worldwide on matters of concern to the people of Turkey and to the world at large.'
'It is shameful for the good relationship between Turkey and our country that a renowned Dutch journalist, working for the ANP, an important Dutch news agency, cannot do her work and is arrested for this'. Job Degenaar, PEN Netherlands.
This is the second time this year that Geerdink, whose reporting focuses on Kurdish issues, has been arrested in Turkey. She was previously detained in January and charged with "disseminating terrorist propaganda"; charges which related to posts she made on Facebook and Twitter and to articles she wrote for Diken, an online, Turkish-language magazine. She was acquitted of these charges in April, although the Chief Prosecutor immediately appealed against her acquittal.
After her release, Geerdink explained why she had decided to remain in Turkey:
‘I have chosen this life and if I want it to be different I can go back to my own country," she told The Independent newspaper.
“But for the Kurds, they have not been able to live their identity for more than a century now, being suppressed.’
Geerdink's arrest comes days after a Vice News team was arrested in the country while reporting in the south-east. Three members of the team were charged with ‘‘working on behalf of a terrorist organisation’’ on 31 August. British journalist Jake Hanrahan and cameraman Philip Pendlebury have since been released and returned to the UK, but there are serious concerns about their colleague Mohammed Ismael Rasool who is still detained.
‘PEN turkey calls on Turkish authorities to release all journalists being solely for carrying out their work, including including Frederike Geerdink and Mohammed Ismael Rasool. We also condemn the ongoing harassment of Hurriyet Newspaper and the censorship of online news. The right to freedom of expression is the cornerstone of a democratic society and be upheld at all times, and particularly in times of conflict.' – Zeynep Oral, President of PEN Turkey.
PEN calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Frederike Geerdink and Mohammed Ismael Rasool and calls on Turkish authorities to cease harassment of journalists in the country.