RIGHTS > Free press in crisis in Turkey, CPJ says


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This file photo shos a protest held against the imprisonment of journalists in Turkey. CPJ identifies 76 journalists imprisoned in Turkey as of Aug 1, 2012. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

This file photo shos a protest held against the imprisonment of journalists in Turkey. CPJ identifies 76 journalists imprisoned in Turkey as of Aug 1, 2012. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Turkey’s press freedom situation has reached a crisis point, with the country assuming the world’s top spot for the number of journalists imprisoned in its jails, a new report from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has shown.

“The Turkish government is engaging in a broad offensive to silence critical journalists through imprisonment, legal prosecution and official intimidation,” the report said.

CPJ has identified 76 journalists imprisoned in Turkey as of Aug. 1, 2012. Following a case-by-case review, the CPJ concluded that at least 61 journalists were being held in direct relation to their work or newsgathering activities, the highest global figure in the last decade.

The CPJ’s 53-page report featured letters sent from imprisoned journalists and government responses to CPJ inquiries.

“As tensions between Turkey and Syria escalate a choke on information and climate of fear could deter important, probing news coverage,” the report read, continuing that approximately 30 percent of the imprisoned journalists were accused of participating in anti-government plots or being members of outlawed political groups.

About 70 percent of those jailed were Kurdish journalists charged with aiding terrorism by covering the views and activities of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK).

Over three-quarters of the imprisoned journalists have not been convicted of a crime, but are being held as they await resolution of their cases, the report said.

Up to 5,000 criminal cases against journalists

According to the report, up to 5,000 criminal cases were pending against journalists at the end of 2011.

“Articles in the penal code give authorities wide berth to use journalists’ professional work to link them to banned political movements or alleged plots. Some of the most frequently used articles criminalize basic newsgathering activities, such as talking to security officials or obtaining documents,” the report said.

“As a rising regional and global power, Turkey’s economic and political success should be matched by respect for the universal right to freely exchange news, information, and ideas,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “Turkey’s tendency to equate critical journalism with terrorism is not justified by the country’s security concerns. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan should cease his attacks on the press and instead provide justice for journalists while pursuing reforms that guarantee freedom of expression,” he said.


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Bagudu Bagudu

10/23/2012 9:47:33 PM

Why is this possible? Because there is zero solidarity from the remaining journalists. No strike, no black pages in the newspapers, nothing...sad.


10/22/2012 9:36:09 PM

Turkey's governmental sponsorship of the tyrannical and undemocratic means of censorship of freedom of speech and freedom of expression, is the equivalent of someone "sweeping the trash under the carpet" in an effort to make his household appear clean. The latter generates the question as to the reason(s) why are the Turkish people tolerating this oppressive and dictatorial means of mind and thought control. Fortunately, Mr. Erdogan is not able to silence the world outside Turkey. Regards

Rimon Tree

10/22/2012 4:52:30 PM

@ Nikos Love your sarcasm, makes me smile :-))

Tevfik Alp

10/22/2012 4:29:55 PM

Censorship is embedded into the culture of Turkey. Events, conversations and activities are under surveillace. So bad that; people have been indoctrinated with the same mentality. Try to take a picture of a petrol station, a supermarket or a consulate building and watch how many people will stop you. It is very common to see, a reader's letter regarding a news article will be nitpicked or never printed because the news media have their own guidelines.

mara mcglothin

10/22/2012 4:16:14 PM

All very sad, and now that the press is under lock and key, now we shall start in on those infidel "artists". Who next? Ajda?

constantinos kio

10/22/2012 2:34:52 PM

more jurnalist in prison from china pakistan iran north corea . its a brand wew guinness record .

Ali Benjamin

10/22/2012 1:28:53 PM

As being part of an ostensible democracy, the Erdoğan regime should cease its paranoid hyprocrisy & allow genuine freedom of the press & expression. And THAT even includes genuine INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING & POLITICAL SATIRE. As an American currently living in Turkey, it is appalling that this basic freedom that I took for granted all my life in the U.S. is virtually non-existent here. Mr. Erdoğan would do well to read the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution, ponder them, and learn from them.

Nikos T.

10/22/2012 10:56:22 AM

I don't believe a word they say. Everything seemd to be right on the last Turkish TV series AKR has been giving for free to other countries.

Faruk Beisser

10/22/2012 10:17:23 AM

So what else is new? Turkey is well on its way to becoming a second Iran, where only gov!t friendly journalists are allowed! And the Great Leader giving freedom to critical journalists? You might just as well demand that the devil be freed from hell!

Alex Kader

10/22/2012 1:26:28 AM

The medieval witch-hunts time of Turkey is in effect. "Free press in crisis”, it will continue to be in crisis as long as this government in power. The supporters of this government try to eliminate all the opposite voices in order to create unequal classes in Turkey; therefore, they are acting like volunteer witch-hunters. I prefer to live in a poor country such as Portugal, Spain or Greece with absolute freedom rather than a rich country no democracy, basic human rights or freedoms.
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