The Republic of Cyprus responded to calls by Turkish Cypriot journalist Sener Levent, who has been asking the government to weigh in on his clash with Turkish justice.
Levent, chief editor of Turkish Cypriot daily Arfika in the north, reached out to Greek Cypriot media this week, sending a message of concern over what he described as a summon to appear in court in Turkey.
He called on Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and EU officials in Brussels to intervene and “ensure the safety of two Cypriot and European citizens,” referring to himself and his colleague Ali Osman.
The government spokesperson for the Republic of Cyprus, Prodromos Prodromou, said on Wednesday that the administration was concerned over a “mass media intimidation” referring specifically to a “legal prosecution attempt” against Afrika newspaper in the north and its two journalists.
His newspaper has faced several lawsuits, filed by both civilian and military authorities, including charges of defamation, libel, incitement, spying and other offenses
“The government reached out to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on Tuesday, asking them to step in and defend the freedom of expression and freedom of the press,” Prodromou said.
Levent, a well known critic of Turkey and its President Tayyip Erdogan, is already facing another trial in the north, which is set to continue in September.
His newspaper has faced several lawsuits, filed by both civilian and military authorities, including charges of defamation, libel, incitement, spying and other offenses.
But the new case filed in Turkey against Levent and Osman, which was initially reported in the south by Kathimerini Cyprus, is adding more weight to Afrika’s legal troubles with a larger political scope.
The case involves at least one publication in January, in which Levent passionately condemned Turkey and Turkish soldiers, likening the military campaign in Syria’s Afrin with atrocities in Cyprus and elsewhere in the world.
“You are terrorists, not marchers. You hit, you broke, you shattered. You attempted to murder us. You call this a campaign?” Levent wrote.
The activist reporter, who escaped an attempt on his life in the past, went on to liken Turkish soldiers to members of the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and jihadists on patrols in Syria who carry out beheadings.
“We are armed with flowers. And this pen, which won’t listen even to me as I can’t force it to write. And you think your rocks, your Sultan, your Allahu Akbar proclamations can force it?” Levent wrote.