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Turkey8 October 2003

Greek television journalist detained by the army

Reporters Without Borders has called for the immediate release of a Greek television journalist and his engineer who have been arrested and detained by the Turkish army in the north of the country. Yiannis Kanelakis, of independent televison Mega was arrested along with his colleague Anestis Moutafis on 7 October at Caykara, near Trabzon.

Robert Ménard secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders called on interior minister Abdulkadir Aksu to give Reporters Without Borders and the Greek consulate an explanation for the arrests. He also asked to know what the journalists were accused of. The press freedom organisation reminded the Turkish authorities of their undertaking to respect the European Union’s democratic principles on press freedom and in particular not to pursue abusive cases against journalists for "insulting the nation."

The television journalist was reporting on the Greek Pontiac people living in the Pontos area of Turkey. He was accompanied by Stefanos Taximanidis, president of the Greek Pontiacs Federation and his assistant, Stathis Taxidis. Police had arrested the team on an earlier occasion on 5 October after they were denounced by a local resident for "making Pontiac propaganda." The four were picked up by the army on 7 October and placed in detention. Stefanos Taximanidis and Stathis Taxidis were later released but the journalists were still held. Their film tapes and papers were confiscated.

The Greek consulate in Turkey said they understood the authorities planned to check the contents of the three tapes to ensure they did not contain anything that would be "insulting" to Turkey.

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