Europe’s security body has released a strongly-worded statement voicing concern over the targeting of prominent Turkish journalist Amberin Zaman by presidential hopeful Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“Dunja Mijatović, OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] Representative on Freedom of the Media expressed concern today over the targeting of prominent Turkish journalist Amberin Zaman by the highest authorities in Turkey,” the OSCE said in a written statement released on Aug. 8.
Throughout the statement, the Erdoğan’s name was not cited, although his title was mentioned.
“I am alarmed by the latest example of intimidation and threats toward journalists in Turkey,” Mijatović said. “Critical ideas are indispensable elements of democratic debates and they need to be safeguarded and not attacked by the authorities. The widespread smear campaign against Amberin Zaman threatens her safety,” the representative added.
Just ahead of Sunday’s presidential election, Erdoğan slammed Zaman, who writes for the Economist and Turkish daily Taraf, over comments she made in a television debate. She had asked the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in the debate whether any Muslim society was capable of challenging its authorities.
Erdoğan lashed out at Zaman, without mentioning her directly by name, at an election rally in the eastern city of Malatya on Aug. 7, calling her a “shameless woman.” “A militant in the guise of a journalist, a shameless woman … Know your place!” he declared.
Zaman responded to Erdoğan in her column in Taraf, writing: “You are attacking a Muslim woman who described what you are doing. Because women are sitting targets, aren’t they?”
She said she had been the target of a smear campaign by pro-government media outlets, who had called her a “Jewish b*tch” who should become a “concubine” of Islamist jihadists in Iraq.
The OSCE mission deployed to Turkey to observe the first direct presidential election in the country contacted Zaman, daily Taraf reported on Aug. 10. The delegation is expected to discuss the matter during their press conference on Aug. 11.