TURKEY: Prime Minister lodges defamation complaint against prominent journalist

PEN International is deeply concerned by the news that another defamation case is being brought against a high profile Turkish writer by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Reports emerged on 6 May 2014 that Erdoğan has lodged a complaint with the public prosecutor’s office alleging that writer, journalist and documentary filmmaker Can Dündar defamed him in an article for national newspaper Cumhuriyet printed on 18 April 2014. The public prosecutor is yet to decide whether to press criminal defamation charges against Dündar, who is expected to be questioned in Istanbul in the coming days. PEN International opposes the criminalisation of defamation in all cases.

The complaint against Dündar comes in the aftermath of a number of highly publicised defamation cases brought by the Turkish prime minister against prominent critics in the media. Writers Ahmet Altan and İhsan Eliaçık (who was featured as a case study in PEN’s recent report on the Gezi Park protests) are amongst those to have had cases brought against them by the prime minister for their writings or social media posts in recent times.

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Please send appeals:

  • Calling on the Turkish authorities to decriminalise defamation
  • Urging them to ensure that judges and prosecutors approach defamation cases involving senior politicians in accordance with the principles set out by the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Tuşalp v Turkey
  • Reminding them that Turkey has the obligation to respect the right to freedom of expression under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which it is a state party

In your letters to the Prime Minister, please also:

  • Ask him to stop bringing defamation cases against writers and journalists engaging in legitimate political criticism

Appeals to:

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Vekaletler Caddesi
Başbakanlık Merkez Bina
06573, Kızılay
Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 312 417 0476
Email: receptayyip.erdogan [at] basbakanlik.gov [dot] tr
Facebook:’ ‘.((strlen(‘https://www.facebook.com/RecepTayyipErdogan’)>40) ? substr(‘https://www.facebook.com/RecepTayyipErdogan’,0,40).’…’ : ‘https://www.facebook.com/RecepTayyipErdogan’).’
Twitter: @RT_Erdogan

Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ
Milli Müdafaa Caddesi No: 22
06659, Kızılay
Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 312 419 33 70
Email: bekir.bozdag [at] tbmm.gov [dot] tr; ozelkalem [at] adalet.gov [dot] tr
Twitter: @bybekirbozdag