Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ
Milli Müdafaa Caddesi No: 22
PEN Guatemala is deeply concerned by the growing campaign of judicial harassment faced by writer, journalist and documentary filmmaker Can Dündar. Dündar, who was recently appointed as the new editor-in-chief of the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, was questioned today on suspicion of presidential defamation; an offence which carries a sentence of up to four years and eight months in prison under the Turkish Penal Code. The criminal investigation comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan submitted an official complaint about an interview conducted by Dündar with one of the prosecutors who led a December 2013 investigation into alleged corruption amongst Erdoğan’s inner circle.
We call on the Turkish authorities to decriminalise defamation including against the president, and to drop the cases against Can Dündar;
Our organization remind them that the limits of acceptable criticism of politicians and senior public officials are wider than for private individuals, as has been determined repeatedly in international law such as in the case of Tuşalp v Turkey before the European Court of Human Rights;
Finally, we remind 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.