OSCE starts inquiry on alleged journalist rights abuse in Turkey

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has requested information on the trial procedures of 24 journalists from the Turkish Justice Ministry, news website Bianet reported on Sunday.

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Teresa Ribeiro inquired about journalists from the Kurdish news agency Mezopotamya. Among them was Mehmet Aslan, who was jailed on Jan. 5 over undisclosed charges of terrorism.

Two more reporters from Mezopotamya, and two Kurdish journalists working for other outlets were included in Ribeiro’s inquiry. The journalists are facing terrorism charges for reporting on the Turkish army’s alleged crimes against the Kurdish community in the eastern border province of Van.

Zana Kaya, Eren Keskin, Kemal Sancılı and İnan Kızılkaya, who are facing terrorism charges for their work with now-shuttered Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem, are are also on Ribeiro’s list.

The OSCE representative also requested hearing records for the trial of slain Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, who was shot dead in front of the offices of his weekly Agos newspaper on Jan. 19, 2007. Turkish state officials were aware of the plans, but took no steps to protect the Armenian journalist, as revealed in the investigation and trial process.

Ribeiro has also requested a copy of the extended ruling on exiled Turkish journalist Can Dündar, who was sentenced to 27 years in prison over espionage charges for a report published by Cumhuriyet newspaper.

Ribeiro is also interested in the killing of journalist Hazım Özsu, and the attack on journalist Levent Gültekin, as well as court documents on the trial of opposition outlet Oda TV’s news director Müyesser Yıldız, who had also reported on the Turkish intelligence service’s activities in Syria, similar to Dündar.

At least 43 journalists are currently serving time or waiting for their trials in Turkey’s prisons, according to the Journalists Union of Turkey.

According to a tally kept by Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), at least 25 journalists have been killed and 831 journalists have been imprisoned since 1992.