Turkey Continues Assault On Journalism, Jails Austrian Journalist

“This morning at 5 o'clock our comrade and author Max Zirngast was arrested in Ankara along with other people by the anti-terror department.”


Turkish authorities have detained an Austrian journalist who was reportedly critical of the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

According to several magazines he worked for, Max Zirngast was arrested in the capital city of Ankara. Austrian magazine Re:volt said the journalist was detained along with two other Turkish citizens.

Another magazine, The Jacobin, to which Zirngast has written for, said his detainment was “an appalling abridgment of democratic rights.”

News of the journalist’s arrest was also confirmed by the Austrian Foreign Ministry.

“Our embassy in Ankara is already in contact with the relatives and the Turkish authorities,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Thomas Schnoell

The minister said further details were not being released due to data protection concerns.

News of the arrest was first broken by Re:volt on Twitter. The magazine posted Zirngast’s pictures and wrote, “This morning at 5 o'clock our comrade and author Max Zirngast was arrested in Ankara along with other people by the anti-terror department. Allegation, of course: ‘Terror!!!’ #Turkey is trying to silence all resistant voices. It will not succeed!”

Zirngast has reportedly written in magazines where he has criticized the Turkish president.

His most recent work where he criticized Erdogan was a co-authored an article for Jacobin in which he described Erdogan “an increasingly despotic leader.”

The article was written after the recent Turkish presidential election that took place in June 2018. In the article, the authors criticized the way the elections were held and called them “illegitimate” because of irregularities and media bias.

The journalist has studied political science and philosophy in Ankara and Vienna.

Ismail Kuepeli, a historian and political scientist in Germany and an acquaintance of Zirngast, said the detained journalist had a fair idea of the outcome of being vocal against the Turkish president. He also added that he lately began more time Ankara.

“Max speaks, he writes, he engages in civil society. None of that is terror-related,” he told CNN.

Erdogan is known for his intolerance of criticism and his readiness to take legal action over perceived slurs. Recently, Turkish prosecutors have opened more than 1,800 cases against people for insulting him since he became president in 2014.

Those who have faced such suits include journalists, cartoonists, academics and even school children. Erdogan has said he is open to criticism, but draws the line at insults.

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