National Press Club

National Press Club condemns Turkish police attacks on journalists

September 17, 2013 | By Rachel Oswald | roswald@nationaljournal.com

The National Press Club criticized police aggression against at least 12 journalists in Turkey who had been covering public protests in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir.

Journalists working for a range of Turkish and foreign news organizations over the course of two days during the week of Sept. 9 sustained injuries from rubber bullets and, in at least one instance, from a stun grenade, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Some of the injured journalists said it appeared police launched the attacks because they knew their targets were media workers. Police did not begin their assault until after they had seen press credentials and when there were no eye witnesses, according to journalists who were there.

Freelancer Ahmet Sik told Reporters Without Borders that police worked to prevent him and other journalists from covering an arrest taking place near Taksim Square in Istanbul, threatening them with rubber bullets.

The assaults followed this summer’s crackdown on scores of journalists during the “Occupy Gezi” demonstrations, according to the Association of Turkish Journalists.

“The recent police attacks on journalists in Turkey are part of a pattern of violence, impunity and a disregard for freedom of the press,” said National Press Club President Angela Greiling Keane. “The Turkish government and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan must immediately carry out a comprehensive and unbiased investigation into the attacks on journalists, and Turkey should forbid its police from impeding journalists’ efforts to cover public protests.”

A U.S. ally and member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Turkey is the world’s largest jailer of journalists, according to press freedom groups.

The National Press Club's Press Freedom Committee leads Press Club efforts to speak out about potential threats to press freedom and open government in the United States and abroad and to promote greater transparency and protections for journalists.