ANKARA (AFP)–Reporters without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres)–a public interest group–called on Turkey to stop legal hounding of journalists satirizing state officials.
Releasing a statement after journalist-writer Fikret Otyam–79–was sentenced to pay a fine on April 5 in a defamation case filed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan–Reporters without Borders said that it was at least the fourth case the prime minister has brought against a journalist since December 2004.
Calling on Turkey to pay respect freedom of expression and of the press–and fundamental principles of European judicial standards–the organization said–"Turkish journalists–like their European colleagues–should be allowed make satirical commen’s about the official figures without fear of being systematically dragged before the courts. Otherwise they will be in danger of operating self-censorship which is very damaging to press freedom."
Earlier–Prime Minister Erdogan launched several cases against a satirical weekly–Penguen–for a cartoon it carried on February 24 captioned–"The world of Tayyip."
Reporters Without Borders is an association officially recognized as serving the public interest. More than a third of the world’s people live in countries where there is no press freedom. Reporters Without Borders works constantly to restore their right to be informed. Today–more than 130 journalists around the world are in prison simply for doing their job. Reporters Without Borders believes imprisoning or killing a journalist is like eliminating a key witness and threatens everyone’s right to be informed. It has been fighting such practices for more than 18 years.