ISTANBUL: A Turkish court has rejected a legal bid seeking the release of two journalists and an academic being held on "terror propaganda" charges, media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders said today.
RSF Turkey representative and journalist Erol Onderoglu, journalist Ahmet Nesin and rights activist and academic Sebnem Korur Fincanci were charged on Monday in connection with "terror propaganda" after guest-editing the pro-Kurdish Turkish daily Ozgur Gundem.
The three have been remanded in custody and are being held in Metris prison in Istanbul. Prosecutors have demanded they be given jail terms of up to fourteen-and-a-half years.
"The request lodged on Thursday for their liberty has been rejected," RSF secretary general Christophe Deloire told AFP.
"It's a punitive measure to have them detained and it's another punitive measure to keep them there," he said.
On Friday, Deloire led a protest outside the gates of the Istanbul jail with demonstrators holding pictures calling for the trio to be released.
The case has stoked concerns over the state of basic freedoms in Turkey, with the United States expressing deep concern over "a troubling trend that we've seen in Turkey to discourage legitimate discourse and freedom of expression, freedom of the press."
In a statement released earlier this week, the watchdog said arrests marked a new stage in Turkey's crackdown on activists fighting for human rights.
"The jailing of Onderoglu, Nesin and Fincanci marks a new stage in the criminalisation of human rights activism and the continuing decline in media freedom in Turkey, which is ranked 151st out of 180 countries in RSF's 2016 World Press Freedom Index," it said.