09:27 GMT02 June 2020
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    The president of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Mogens Blicher Bjerregard, demanded Saturday that press freedom must be a condition of any deal between Turkey and the European Union.

    EDINBURGH (Sputnik) — Can Dundar and Erdem Gul from the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet were arrested and placed in pre-trial detention in November 2015 for publishing an incriminating article and footage in the daily on May 29. Their investigation concluded that Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) trucks had carried containers with artillery shells, machine gun rounds and mortar shells to Syrian rebels. On Friday, Dundar was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison and Gul for five years and six months over releasing secret documents.

    "We urge Turkish authorities to guarantee the safety of journalists, to prosecute all media freedom violators and to respect press freedom. This grave incident must receive a firm reaction by international institutions, the European Union and the Council of Europe and it shows press freedom must be part of any agreement between EU and Turkey," Bjerregard said in a statement.

    The European Commission recommended earlier this week for the European Parliament to vote on visa-free regime for Turkey after the country meets all 72 required benchmarks. The decision is expected in June.

    In mid-March, the European Union and Ankara agreed on a deal under which Turkey pledged to take back all undocumented migrants who arrive in the European Union through its territory in exchange for Syrian refugees accommodated in Turkey, on a one-for-one basis. In return, the 28-member bloc pledged to accelerate the Turkish EU accession bid and introduce a visa-free regime between Turkey and Europe.

    Turkey has yet to meet EU requirements on human rights, press freedom and minority treatment before qualifying for the free travel deal. Marta Cygan, the director in the European Commission's migration and home affairs department, said last month that Turkey had fulfilled 35 benchmarks out of 72.


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