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International media call on Turkey's Erdogan to protect journalists

A letter from international organizations has been written criticizing Erdogan's handling of press freedom in Turkey. Violence and instability has hit the country ahead of elections on Sunday.

Top media organizations from more than two dozen countries have written to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to protect journalists. The letter, which was organized by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, urges Turkey to ensure press freedom ahead of elections on Sunday.

Some of the organizations include "Süddeutsche Zeitung" and ARD television from Germany, France's "Agence-France-Presse," Japan's "Mainichi Shimbun," Italy's "La Stampa," Australia's "The Age," "The New York Times," "Vice News" and "Buzzfeed."

"We urge you to use your influence to ensure that journalists, whether Turkish citizens or members of the international press, are protected and allowed to do their work without hindrance,” the organizations wrote.

Erdogan's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

They added that "we share widespread concerns that recent events are part of a concerted campaign to silence any opposition or criticism of the government in the run-up to the election."

They said further that the Turkish government's "failure to support and to protect journalists is undermining the country's international reputation and damaging its standing as a democracy."

The European Commission on Friday noted that Turkey's application for European Union membership is dependent on how they handle press freedoms and human rights.

Commission spokeswoman Catherine Rey said, "Turkey, as any country negotiating its membership, needs to ensure the respect of human rights, including the freedom of expression, in line with the European convention of human rights."

Criticizing attacks

The letter criticizes several incidents in which journalists and media houses were attacked for openly criticizing Erdogan.

Watch video 02:27

Turkey heads to polls on Sunday

Ahmet Hakan, a columnist working for the Turkish daily newspaper "Hurriyet," was attacked outside his home. Three journalists working for Vice News in Turkey's Kurdistan were also attacked and detained in August. Mohammed Rasool, one of the three journalists and Iraqi citizen, is still in custody. He has also worked for the "Associated Press" (AP).

In addition, Turkish police stormed the Istanbul headquarters of media group Koza-Ipek early Wednesday. Police took television broadcasters off the air. The media group has since been placed under the management of a trustee during an investigation of its ties to Fetullah Gulen, a US-based moderate Islamic cleric the Turkish government accuses of trying to destabilize the state.

Opinion polls predict Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) will win most of the votes again but will not gain a parliamentary majority that it lost in June elections.

The campaign has been marked by violence

and instability.

smm/ng (AP, AFP)

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