Freedom of expression is of paramount importance and must be respected, Commission tells CNA

The European Commission has stressed that the harassment and intimidation of journalists constitute violation of the freedom of expression, guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, invited by the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) to comment the prosecution of Turkish Cypriot newspaper Afrika and its journalists Sener Levent and Ali Osman in Turkey.

The Commission said in its reply to CNA that it is is aware of reports that criminal proceedings have been initiated in Turkey against Mr Levent, Mr Osman and their Turkish Cypriot newspaper “Afrika”.

It recalled that it “has earlier deplored violence used by demonstrators against the offices of “Afrika” in relation to the same article,” underlining that “harassment and intimidation of journalists constitutes a violation of the freedom of expression, guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

The Commission said it “will continue to monitor the issue, to raise it with the appropriate counterparts, and to underline the paramount importance of freedom of expression in fostering trust between the two Cypriot communities.”

Furthermore it called “on all parties concerned to ensure respect for the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights, notably Article 10 concerning freedom of expression.”

Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said on Wednesday that the government of the Republic of Cyprus has referred the prosecution of Turkish Cypriot newspaper Afrika and its journalists Sener Levent and Ali Osman in Turkey to the OSCE and the EU.

Turkish Cypriot daily newspaper Afrika, formerly known as Avrupa, came under attack last January, after referring to yet another invasion by Turkey, following its assault on Afrin, Syria.

According to Turkish Cypriot press reports Levent and Osman were recently called by the self-styled police in occupied Cyprus to testify in a case filed in Ankara against them over the headline criticizing Turkey’s military offensive in Afrin.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July last year, ended inconclusively.

Source: Cyprus News Agency