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IPI Expresses Concern for Journalists in Turkey and Nigeria

June 3, 1990

LONDON (AP) _ The International Press Institute has protested to the leaders of Turkey and Nigeria over the imprisonment of several journalists in the two countries.

In a letter to Turkish President Turgut Ozal, IPI director Peter Galliner said the institute was concerned about five imprisoned journalists on a hunger strike. Galliner said the prisoners are protesting two articles of the Turkish Criminal Code which, IPI said, restrict freedom of speech in Turkey.

″We believe that the imprisonment of these five journalists is a gross violation of their basic human and professional rights and we ask that they be released without delay,″ said the message, sent Friday.

Galliner said the journalists involved in the hunger strike were: Erhan Tuskan, editor of Ilerici Yurtsever Genclik, Hasan Fikret Ulusoydan, editor of Halkin Sesi, Kazim Arli, editor of Kurtulus Sosyalist Dergi, Irfan Asik, editor of Partizan and Mehmet Ozgen, editor of Bagimiz Turkiye and Devrimci Militan.

In another letter sent Friday, the institute protested to Nigerian Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, over the imprisonment of three journalists and the reported closure of four newspapers in that country.

The journalists were arrested after the April 22 coup attempt because their reports on the coup offended President Babangida and his military government.

The IPI called on the Nigerian government to release immediately Chris Mamah from The Punch, Banji Ogundele from the Sunday News and Tolu Olanrewaju from the Federal Radio Corp. of Nigeria.

″We further request that The Punch, Lagos News, Evening News and Sunday News be reopened without delay and that the media in Nigeria be allowed to pursue their profession without further harassment,″ said the message sent by Galliner.

The independent institute, with offices in London and Zurich, claims representation of leading publishers and editors in more than 60 countries.

Also Friday, the Nigerian Civil Liberties Organization filed suit to block the two-week-old trial of 10 military officers accused of leading a failed coup attempt against the government.

The Civil Liberties Organization, the country’s most prominent human rights’ group, also seeks to block the pending trial of five civilians by the same military tribunal.

The organization filed suit Friday asking a state court to rule that the military tribunal cannot be impartial because the officers sitting on it were targets of the coup plotters.

It also said the military will not permit the defendants to have civilian lawyers. No date has been set for a judgment on the suit.

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