CWA Canada renews call for Turkey to cease attacks on freedom of expression


Video produced by the Committee to Protect Journalists, which tracks the jailing of media workers in Turkey.


With yet another journalist being found guilty of “defamation and insult” on Tuesday, CWA Canada has renewed its call for Turkey to cease its attacks on freedom of expression.

Martin O’Hanlon, the media union’s president, said it’s “sad and disgraceful” that Turkey, a formerly progressive democracy, is the world’s leading jailer of journalists.

Pelin Ünker, a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, was sentenced by a court in Istanbul to 13 months in jail for her Paradise Papers investigative reports on offshore tax havens published in a Turkish newspaper. They revealed details of business dealings by the country’s former prime minister, Binali Yildirim, and his family.

O’Hanlon said many Turkish journalists have been “convicted under the phony catch-all charge of insulting and slandering a public official. It’s being used more and more around the world to silence opposition. It’s sad and disgraceful.”

Last March, in the wake of 25 journalists being sentenced to years in prison on false terrorism charges, O’Hanlon sent a letter to the Turkish ambassador, Selçuk Ünal, expressing CWA Canada’s “grave concern about the crackdown on freedom of expression in Turkey and the intimidation and jailing of journalists.”

At that time, the Stockholm Centre for Freedom was reporting that 245 media workers were in prison in Turkey.

“These outrageous abuses of power, combined with the Erdogan regime’s crackdown on the fundamental right of freedom of expression, are a stain on Turkey — a formerly progressive, secular country — that tarnishes its reputation and undermines its democratic integrity,” O’Hanlon told the ambassador.

“We ask you to be on the right side of history, take a stand against authoritarianism, and tell your government to end its attacks on freedom of expression. The whole world is watching.”

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