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RIGHTS >Turkish Justice Ministry ‘cannot determine’ number of arrested journalists

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It is not possible to determine the number of journalists currently under arrest in Turkey, Turkey’s Justice Ministry has stated in response to a lawmaker’s written questionnaire.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Adana deputy Meral Danış Beştaş said a parliamentary question she submitted last May had finally been answered, and that the Justice Ministry gave the number of press card owners under arrest as three.

In a written reply, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said the number of arrested journalists cannot be known because the occupation of the detainees cannot be precisely defined.

“In the information form related to the persons taken to the prison, questions about the vocational and educational status are included and it is not compulsory to fill in this section, and our ministry does not control the reality of the information given on the forms,” Bozdağ said.

“Since the records are based on the prisoners’ statements, it would be wrong and incomplete to evaluate the situation based on the number of people who said they are journalists, because there can be people who are said to be journalists although they have different professions, or journalists may have declared different professions.

Also, it is important whether the crimes committed or that the suspects were charged with fall under the category of journalistic work,” the minister added.

Turkish authorities have long argued that journalists have not been arrested in the country due to their professional work but due to various “terrorist” activities.

Turkey has been facing fierce criticism over its crackdown on journalists in the wake of the July 15 failed coup attempt. More than 100 journalists, most of whom face terrorism-related charges for alleged links to the Fethullah Gülen network and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), have been arrested since July 15.

The Istanbul-based Platform for Independent Journalism (P24) puts the number of journalists currently in prison in Turkey at 146. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), meanwhile, puts the total at 121.

December/02/2016

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