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Turkey28 March 2008

Concern over night arrest of journalists

Reporters Without Borders today criticised Turkish police for arresting an ailing 83-year-old journalist at night for interrogation as a risk to his health.

Journalist Ilhan Selçuk, owner and columnist of the opposition daily Cumhuriyet, was seized on 21 March in a crackdown on the illegal organisation Ergenekon which netted a dozen people, including three journalists whose homes and offices were searched and computers and documents taken away. He was held for 10 hours at a police station and told he would be under house arrest until investigations were complete.

Selçuk said police asked him about his daily columns in the paper, which backs the Republican People’s Party (RPP) and is very critical of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The paper’s readers, the RPP leader and the journalists’ organisation Platform G9 have expressed support for the paper.

The two other journalists were imprisoned in Bayrampasa, on the European side of Istanbul, and charged with “inciting rebellion against the government” and belonging to an illegal organisation.

An Istanbul assizes court last June banned “all news about the investigation of the terrorist organisation Ergenekon.”

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