Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Fight for Press Freedom?: Taraf Faces Off with TSK

From BIA-Net:
The newspaper “Taraf” is in trouble with the General Staff about the Dağlıca story it made a few days ago, in which it had claimed that the military already knew about PKK’s Dağlıca ambush where twelve soldiers were killed. In this story, Taraf had published some secret documents about the incident.

Reacting to this story, the General Staff told Taraf to return all these secret documents it used in its story. Otherwise they would get them through a law-enforcement action.

Bianet talked to the heads of the media institutions about the matter.

“They are trying to cover up Dağlıca” Ahmet Abakay, head of Contemporary Journalists Association (ÇGD), told bianet that Dağlıca was a very important matter and they were trying to cover it up. He also added that Taraf ran a serious story, but this also involved a risk, since some circles obviously did not want these kinds of stories. Abakay said that they realized that Taraf was under pressure because of this story and that they were protesting this.

Accusations should be not to the newspaper, but to those who did not do their job
Abakay stated that what mattered was not whether or not a document was published, but whether or not it was authentic. He claimed that as long as the document was authentic, it was the responsibility of the media organization that public was informed about it and this was protected by the freedom of press and the laws.

Journalism is like being a ropewalker
Abakay thinks that journalism under these conditions is like being a ropewalker. According to him, journalism in Turkey is a very risky business. He said, “Sometimes things that are not illegal are presented as if they are criminal acts. This is the biggest problem.”

Erinç: Journalism is one of the most difficult jobs
Orhan Erinç, head of the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC), indicated that there was an article in the press law that stated the journalists could not be pressured into turning their sources and documents.

He added that the same thing had happened in “Nokta” incident when the weekly Nokta was pressured into shutting itself down because of its story about some generals planning a military coup; different laws were used to bypass the press law. Therefore, he said, that journalism was one of the most difficult jobs in Turkey.

The Taraf readers and various non-governmental organizations visited Taraf’s main building in Kadıköy, İstanbul to show their support. (BÇ/EZÖ/TB)

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