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Arrested journalists raise concerns: EU official

Head of Euro Parliament questions Turkey's press freedoms, citing imprisonment of journalists as an obstacle for democratic change

AFP , Friday 25 Nov 2011
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The head of the European Parliament criticized Turkey on Friday about press freedom, saying the number of imprisoned journalists in the country raises concerns.

"I am concerned personally about the state of affairs on the freedom of press and freedom of speech generally" in Turkey, Jerzy Buzek said after two days of talks in Ankara with Turkish officials and non-governmental organisations.

"The imprisonment of so many journalists is not a typical situation compared to other European countries... It is an absolutely unusual situation," Buzek said.

Recent arrests of dozens of journalists, coupled with Internet restrictions, have sparked worries about media freedom and free speech in Turkey.

Advocacy groups say about 60 journalists are currently in prison, including prominent government critics charged as part of a long-running probe into alleged plots to discredit and oust the Islamist-rooted government..

Critics say the jailings amount to a campaign to silence the opposition.

"We need to see some action," Buzek said on amending laws restricting the freedom of expression in Turkey, including anti-terror laws used to judge many journalists.

"Without a free media we cannot build a true democracy," Buzek said, adding that Turkey has a "historic" opportunity to solve its problems as it is prepared to amend its constitution.

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