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RSF Turkey representative Erol Önderoğlu, shown here at a May 2, 2016, press event in Istanbul, was among three people arrested today in connection with their participation in a campaign to show solidarity with embattled Turkish newspaper Özgür Gündem. (Ozan Kose/AFP)

Turkey releases journalist, press freedom advocate

June 30, 2016 1:11 PM ET

New York, June 30, 2016--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes today's release of Erol Önderoğlu, the Turkey representative of the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Şebnem Korur Fincancı, an academic, columnist, and president of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, and called on Turkish authorities to drop all charges against them.

Önderoğlu and Fincancı still face trial on terrorism charges. Istanbul's 13th Court of Serious Crimes today indicted the two on charges of "propagandizing for a [terrorist] organization," and "praising a crime and criminals," in connection with articles run in the pro-Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem when they individually acted as co-editor of the newspaper for a day to protest authorities' relentless judicial harassment of its staff, according to press reports. The two were arrested on June 20, alongside Cumhuriyet columnist Ahmet Nesin, CPJ reported at the time. Nesin's case is before a different court, according to press reports.

"We call on Turkish authorities to release Ahmet Nesin immediately, and to drop all charges against him, Erol Önderoğlu, and Şebnem Korur Fincancı," CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. "Turkey must stop using its overbroad anti-terror laws to attempt to silence journalists and press freedom advocates."

Dozens of people -- mostly journalists, but also including rights activists, academics, and an actress -- have participated in the campaign since it began in May. At least 16 of them have been referred to trial Özgür Gündem's lawyer, Özcan Kılıç, told CPJ.

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