Press watchdog demands Turkey free arrested Austrian journalist

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German journalist of Turkish origin Mesale Tolu gives a press conference with International press freedom watchdog “Reporters Without Borders” on September 3, 2018 in Berlin.
Tolu, who was arrested in April 2017 on charges of membership of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP), which is banned in Turkey as a terror organisation, spent months in pre-trial detention in Istanbul before being conditionally released in December 2017. But her travel ban was only recently lifted amid a thaw in relations between Ankara and Berlin. She arrived back home on August 26, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / dpa / Kay Nietfeld / Germany OUT

Press watchdog Reporters without Borders (RSF) on Tuesday called for the immediate release of an Austrian journalist who has been arrested in Turkey on “terrorism” charges.

Max Zirngast, a journalist with the far-left magazine Re:volt in German, was arrested in Ankara at dawn on Tuesday, according to the publication, after publishing articles on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The PKK has waged a Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey since 1984. It is blacklisted as a terror organisation by Ankara and its Western allies.

“Divergent political opinions are no justification for arrests and intimidation, which are happening more and more in Turkey,” Reporters without Borders in Austria said in a statement.

Austria’s foreign ministry confirmed the arrest of an Austrian national, without providing further details.

Rights organisations have frequently criticised Turkey for its violations of press freedom, which have stepped up since a failed coup attempt in July 2016.

Turkey ranked 157 out of 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom index published by RSF.