CoE Secretary General focuses on the arrest of Can Dündar and Erdem Gül

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CoE Secretary addresses Turkish Ministers in Committee of Ministers

Turkey

The new government was announced last week and I look forward to working with Prime Minister Davutoğlu and his team, especially at a moment when Turkey and Europe are confronted with unprecedented common challenges.

Last Thursday, Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief, Can Dündar, and his Ankara Bureau Chief, Erdem Gül, were detained. They are accused of spying, revealing state secrets and giving support to a terrorist organisation. I am concerned about these serious accusations against two prominent Turkish journalists.

You may recall that, in May, the newspaper released photos and videos showing police officers opening crates on the back of trucks, which the newspaper described as weapons and ammunition sent to Syria by MIT – the Turkish National Intelligence Organisation – in January 2014.

We do not know at this stage whether the journalists will remain in detention. Whatever decision will be taken in this respect by the judiciary, it is important to stress that depriving journalists of their liberty because they published information cannot be considered as a proportionate measure under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The informal expert working group that we had set up at the beginning of this year with the Ministry of Justice will now urgently meet in Ankara on 17 December. This working group had been set up in the framework of the Action Plan adopted by the Turkish authorities themselves to prevent violations of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The working group will focus on issues related to freedom of expression and on how to find solutions to them. The ultimate aim is to prevent future violations of the Convention.