Jurists have reacted to the arresting of Cumhuriyet’s website Editor-in-Chief, Oğuz Güven, in connection with a report posted at cumhuriyet.com.tr’s Twitter address into the accident in which Denizli Chief Prosecutor Mustafa Alper lost his life. Experienced jurists who participate on the Turkish Union of Bar Associations general committee commented as follows on Oğuz Güven’s arrest:
Ankara Bar Association Chair Hakan Canduran: To take a word in a tweet and turn this into a constitutional crime is an exercise that really stretches the law to its limits. It is impossible to accept this. Cumhuriyet newspaper has for years forged ahead at the Republic’s side with democracy-loving journalists. Oğuz Güven must be released immediately. Today, one-third of the detained journalists in the world are in Turkey. The political rulership engages in conduct of this type to block certain things.The time has at last come to act in accordance with the law.
Former Istanbul Bar Association Chair Turgut Kazan: As there remains not a shred of the rule of law, it is impossible to assess this through a jurist’s eyes. If a member of the press is even to be interrogated, they are to be summoned by telephone or with a summons and their statement taken. To cap it all, it is impossible to consider such a sentence to be a crime. The rulership does not deem such things to be journalism and freedom of speech. So, it is impossible as a jurist to assess this in juristic terms. There is no shred of legality. Nobody has any legal safeguards, because there is no judiciary in Turkey. We are not astonished by such lawlessness.
Former Diyarbakır Bar Association Chair Turgut Kazan: The issue about which we have actually complained the most in recent times has been violations of the freedom of press and expression. Freedom of expression, which should exist in a democratic country, has been unilaterally destroyed in full. On one side, there is complete freedom to defame. But, on the other side, there is no right to exercise freedom of expression. To constantly impose restrictions on one section of society expressing its opinions and threaten them with punishment – you cannot carry on like this anymore. The rulership must abandon restrictions on freedom of expression immediately.
Celal Ülgen, Attorney-at-Law: To be arrested for posting a headline is a violation of the freedom of thought, and extending the arrest period to one week is a method for chastening through restricting people’s freedom. Such instances are incompatible with the dictionary of democracy. The implementation of procedures of this kind overshadowed by state of emergency rule has become one of Turkey’s fundamental problems. Turkey must transition immediately to a normal and civilian style of government. And the law of freedom must be reconstructed.