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    Turkey Fails as EU Member Candidate by Arresting Human Rights Activist

    © AFP 2018 / Ozan Kose
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    The arrest of human rights activists and journalists in Turkey contradicts Ankara's obligations to respect media freedom in order to seek EU membership.

    BRUSSELS (Sputnik) — The arrest of the head of a human rights organization and several journalists in Turkey goes against Ankara's obligations to respect media freedom in order to seek EU membership, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini and EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn said in a joint statement.

    On Monday, a Turkish court ordered the arrest and pre-trial detention of Erol Onderoglu and his two colleagues, Ahmet Nesin and Sebnem Korur Fincanci, who have been charged with spreading terror propaganda while participating in a campaign of solidarity with the Kurdish Ozgur Gundem daily which has recently experienced pressure from Ankara.

    "The arrest of the President of Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT), Prof. Sebnem Korur Fincanci, and of two journalists, Erol Onderoglu (from Reporters Without Borders [RSF]) and Ahmet Nesin, today goes against Turkey's commitment to respect the fundamental rights, including freedom of media. Any alleged wrongdoing or crime should be subject to due process, and respect to the principle of presumption of innocence should be guaranteed," the statement published Monday read.

    According to the statement, the European Union has repeatedly stated that Turkey must "aspire to the highest possible democratic standards and practices" as a country seeking EU membership.

    "Any country negotiating its EU accession must guarantee human rights, in line with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Free, diverse and independent media are essential in any democratic society," the statement concluded.

    Turkey's crackdown on journalists and restrictions on freedom of speech have been condemned by the international community, including RSF, the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia.

    Turkey ranks 151st out of 180 countries in the RSF 2016 press freedom index.

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    Tags:
    European Union, membership, Johannes Hahn, Federica Mogherini, Turkey
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