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IPI Condemns Arrest of Austrian Journalist in Turkey

7. März 2005

International Press Institute

(IPI, the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, is dedicated to the furtherance and safeguarding of press freedom, the promotion of the free flow of news and information, and the improvement of the practices of journalism)

Based on information provided to the International Press Institute (IPI), the Austrian journalist, Sandra Bakutz, is currently being held by Turkish authorities in Istanbul after being arrested at Atatürk airport.

Bakutz, who produces the programme “Anatolien Radio” for Radio Orange 94.0 based in Vienna, Austria, and who has written articles for newspapers and magazines such as Jungewelt (Young World) in Germany, was arrested on 10 February. She was taken straight into custody under an order apparently issued by Ankara`s No 2. State Security Court and transported to a prison.

The Austrian journalist had travelled to Istanbul to attend the trial of 64 prisoners arrested on 1 April 2004 in a police operation against dissidents. The police claim that all of those arrested are members of the terrorist organisation, Revolutionary People`s Liberation Party-Front. Bakutz is also accused of being a member of the organisation.

Commenting on the situation, IPI Director, Johann P. Fritz said, “The case is troubling because it appears Bakutz is being the denied the right of free movement and her professional right to practice her profession.”

He went on to say, “Given the importance of such trials, it is understandable that foreign journalists will travel to Turkey in order to cover them.”

“The public has a right to know and journalists play an essential role in providing this information. In any democracy, it is crucial that governments encourage the free flow of information and refrain from harassing and intimidating journalists.”

“I hope that the Turkish authorities will act quickly in freeing Bakutz and in the future allow foreign journalists to cover such trials without interference and in accordance with the principles laid down in Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”