Police Pepper Spray Supporters Of Turkish Journalists Arrested For Treason

Turkish journalists

Turkish police used pepper spray against activists who showed up to show support for the Turkish journalists who were arrested for treason following the publication of what Turkey deemed, “top secret” information about the transport of weapons via Turkish trucks to ISIS militants.

Protesters gathered outside the Cumhuriyet newspaper offices in Ankara, Friday, to show solidarity with two journalists who have been jailed on terror and espionage charges for publishing reports that accuse the government of arms smuggling into Syria

Several thousand people rallied in Istanbul and Ankara.

Human Rights Watch have said that Turkey is witnessing a crackdown on media freedom under Erdogan’s rule, with many journalists facing prison terms for reporting on corruption and surveillance by the Turkish state.

RT reports: The Friday rally in support of the editor-in- chief and Ankara editor of the Cumhuriyet newspaper in the Turkish capital was attended by about 1,000 people accusing the government of attempting to cover up the weapons scandal by silencing the critics and the press. “Shoulder-to-shoulder against fascism,” the crowd chanted.

About 2,000 people gathered near the Cumhuriyet office in Istanbul to demonstrate their solidarity with the arrested journalists. The protesters filled the yard and the street outside the newspaper’s office chanting, “Free press cannot be silenced.”

“It was just like a bomb exploding in Ankara… and [many] organizations around the country called just one day off,” one of the protesters told RT commenting on the arrests. “Society is ready to explode at any moment,” he added.

Some demonstrators also chanted “Murderer Erdogan,” accusing the Turkish president as well as the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of cooperating with Islamic State terrorist group. Some people also held Friday’s edition of Cumhuriyet newspaper with a front-page headline reading “Black Day for the press,” Reuters reported.

The protest was attended by opposition politicians.

“Journalism is being put on trial with these arrests and the Turkish press is being intimidated,” Utku Cakirozer, a deputy from the main opposition People’s Republican Party (CHP) and Cumhuriyet’s former top editor, told Reuters.

“All opposition press organizations that are abiding by the ethics of journalism and trying to do their journalism are under threat and under attack,” Figen Yuksekdag, co-chairwoman of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), said during the rally, as quoted by Reuters.

“This dark operation aimed at covering the crimes that those trucks carried and the crimes which are continuing to be committed will not be successful,” she added.

“The government does not want any journalist to see what kind of a calamity they have involved Turkey in,” opposition lawmaker Baris Yarkadas told AP.