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Several journalists targeted covering clashes in Turkey

A TV journalist reports on the protests in Istanbul. Several journalists have been targeted while covering the clashes in the country. (AP/Kostas Tsironis)

Istanbul, June 6, 2013--Turkish police have targeted journalists photographing law enforcement clashes with protesters in a series of attacks, detentions, and obstructions documented by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

"Aiming cameras at police firing tear gas and water cannons has put journalists in the crosshairs," said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova from New York. "Police duties do not include harassing, obstructing, and assaulting journalists trying to cover the protests."

Police in Ankara stopped the live broadcast of Ulusal Kanal TV reporter Mustafa Kaya and cameraman Serkan Bayraktar on Wednesday while they were covering clashes between protesters and law enforcement, according to news reports. Kaya told CPJ they had filmed police firing rubber bullets at the crowd. They were subsequently detained by another officer and released the same night.

Police detained Fatoş Kalaçay, Ankara correspondent of Sol, the publication of Turkey's Communist Party, in Konur Street on Friday while she was covering the clashes, she told CPJ. She told CPJ she was denied access to her lawyer while in custody. She was released on Sunday.

Onur Emre Çağatay, an Istanbul correspondent for Sol, told CPJ that police harassed him several times on Friday while he was photographing the clashes near Taksim Square. He said police had attempted to take away his camera, and that he had been injured that night by gas pellets fired by police to disperse the clashes. He said he had to get stitches for his upper lip, which was torn in the attack.

At least three other journalists were wounded by tear gas pellets and rubber bullets fired by police in Taksim Square. Olgu Kundakçı, correspondent for the daily Birgün, told CPJ she was hit in the eye with a gas pellet on Saturday and received five stitches on her eyebrow. The same day, Selçuk Şamiloğlu, correspondent for the daily Hürriyet, was hit in the hand with a rubber bullet, which ricocheted off the camera and also hit him in the head, news reports said. He sought treatment at a hospital for a broken finger, and received six stitches on his head. Ismail Afacan, correspondent for the daily Evrensel and Hayat TV, was hit by a water cannon fired by a police tank on Friday. Afacan told CPJ he believed he was targeted because he was between the tank and the protesters. He said he suffered an eye injury and would press charges against the police.

In a separate episode, police on Sunday attacked the Ankara offices of the daily Sol, according to local journalists. Hatice İkinci, Ankara news editor for Sol, told CPJ that police threw tear gas inside the offices in an apparent attempt to drive out protesters who had taken shelter inside. She said that police beat the journalists as they fled the building. She said that police then entered the offices and destroyed equipment and furniture, broke windows and doors, and damaged the newspaper's archive.

  • For more on Turkey, visit CPJ's Turkey page here.

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