Kurdish journalist Ahmed Azad Çağan, who sought asylum in Switzerland citing threats to his life in Turkey, was taken into custody for deportation in Bern on Sunday.
Çağan, known for his investigative reporting on political issues in Turkey, had fled to Europe in search of refuge. However, Swiss authorities took the controversial decision to proceed with his deportation, a move seen by many as a disregard for the journalist’s safety.
The deportation decision has provoked strong reactions from journalists and activists, who argue that sending Çağan back to Turkey poses a serious risk to his life and undermines the principles of asylum protection.
Several journalists and activists held a press conference in Bern on Monday, calling for immediate action to ensure Çağan’s safety and protect his freedom of expression, Nûçe Ciwan news agency reported.
The hashtag #FreeAhmedAzadÇağan is gaining momentum on social media platforms with campaigns denouncing Switzerland’s decision. Advocates argue that the protection of journalists seeking asylum is not only a matter of individual safety, but also defends the fundamental right to freedom of expression.
Turkey has gained international notoriety in recent years for intensifying its crackdown on dissenting journalists, in particular the targeting of Kurdish media networks. In 2022, the country ranked among the world’s top five jailers of journalists after China, Iran and Myanmar, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
Over the past year, around 30 Kurdish journalists have been charged with terrorism, with their professional activities equated with support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Allegations made by the authorities include working with local Kurdish production companies, sharing posts on social networks related to the Kurdish question and defining the term ‘war’ in conflicts along the borders with Iraq and Syria.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has repeatedly called for the release of imprisoned Kurdish journalists and an end to the “manipulation of anti-terror legislation by the Turkish judicial authorities”.