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Journalist arrested in Turkey for just doing his job, say unions

TURKISH unions have slammed the country’s authoritarian government following the arrest of a journalist for reporting the news of a man driven to suicide because he could not afford to buy a school uniform for his son.

Ergun Demir was detained following his report on the suicide of Ismail Devrim, who was found hanging in his bathroom in Koaceli, just outside Istanbul.

Mr Devrim, who had been unemployed for some time, became depressed after hearing his son could not attend school as he did not have the correct uniform.

Mr Demir reported the story of the suicide, which exposed the impact of the falling purchasing power in Turkey where the value of the lira has dropped by 40 per cent since the start of the year.

Unemployment is continuing to rise and the cost of living is pushing more people across the country into poverty.

However, the governorship of Koaceli claimed that the suicide of Mr Devrim was due to psychological and not financial reasons and condemned the report of Mr Demir.

It said in a statement: “It is understood that the news reported is misleading and creating a negative perception.”

Mr Demir said he was made to share the source of the news and was told that the grounds for his detention was “violating the right of privacy in life.”

He explained that he released a voice recording to prove the accuracy of his report after being accused of making false news.

The Turkish Journalists Union (TGS) said: “Our colleague Ergun Demir reported the news of Ismail Devrim, who committed suicide because he could not get clothes for his child. The news created an outrage in the public opinion of our country and our friend was targeted. 

“Even though our friend did not have to explain the source, he was forced to publish the audio recording of the news.”

TGS emphasised that Mr Demir is being punished simply for doing his job, journalism. 

“In pursuit of the profession of journalists in Turkey it is very difficult and is indicative of the fact that they do so under duress.”

Press freedom is seriously curtailed in Turkey which has more journalists in jail than any other country — a third of the world’s total.

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