OSCE calls on Ankara to free imprisoned journalists

MediaMax, Armenia

Newly appointed OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir

Photo: 20minutes.fr

“I will closely follow the proceedings that started this morning in Istanbul against 17 prominent journalists, editors and board members of Cumhuriyet. Journalism plays an essential role in advancing democracy. I therefore call on Turkey to drop the charges, release all journalists imprisoned for their work, and initiate much needed policy reforms to protect media freedom in the country,” the OSCE Representative stated.

Harlem Désir stressed he fully understands the challenge of fighting terrorism and protecting national security but insisted it must be done with full respect for fundamental freedoms, including freedom of _expression_.

“Freedom of _expression_ and security must go hand in hand as the only effective means of building and sustaining a strong and democratic society. An open and accessible free media also provides the space for debate on difficult issues, including identifying peaceful solution,” the OSCE official remarked.

Harlem Désir also expressed his concern about the state of freedom of _expression_ in Turkey, affecting not only journalists but also social media users, human rights defenders, and academics.

“I reach out to the authorities [of Turkey] to engage in thorough policy and legal reforms to protect free _expression_ and media freedom. My Office stands ready to assist Turkey in this very important process,” the OSCE Representative said.