Number of jailed journalists in Turkey ‘dramatically increases’ in 2015: CPJ report

Number of jailed journalists in Turkey ‘dramatically increases’ in 2015: CPJ report

Number of jailed journalists in Turkey ‘dramatically increases’ in 2015: CPJ report

This handout picture taken and released by the Turkish Cumhuriyet daily newspaper on December 15, 2015 shows Cumhuriyet's journalists doing their editorial news meeting next to the Silivri prison, near Istanbul, to demonstrate their support to their jailed editor in-chief. AFP photo

The number of journalists jailed in Turkey has dramatically risen in 2015, according to a special report by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). 

The report noted that 199 journalists were imprisoned worldwide in 2015, with China and Egypt ranking as the world’s first and second worst jailers of journalists.

Turkey ranked as the fifth worst jailer of journalists globally in 2015, with 14 journalists currently behind the bars in the country.

The report particularly noted the recent arrest of daily Cumhuriyet journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül over their report on Syria-bound intelligence trucks allegedly filled with weapons in January 2014.

“Conditions for the media have also taken a turn for the worse in Turkey, which doubled the number of journalists in jail over the year to 14. The country released dozens of journalists in 2014 after being the world’s worst jailer for two consecutive years, but in 2015 - amid two general elections, further entanglement in the Syrian civil war and the end of a fragile ceasefire with fighters of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK] - fresh arrests make it the fifth worst jailer globally,” the report stated.

The other jailed journalists in Turkey over this year included Mehmet Baransu, a former columnist and correspondent for daily Taraf and founder of the news website Gerçek Gündem (Real Agenda); Mohammed Rasool, a Turkey-based Iraqi journalist who was working with VICE News; Gültekin Avcı, a columnist for daily Bugün; and Nokta magazine editors Cevheri Güven and Murat Çapan. 

The CPJ had recently joined an appeal for the release of Dündar and Gül along with 13 other international advocacy groups.

However, the number of journalists imprisoned globally declined modestly from record levels recorded over the past three years, the report added.

According to the CPJ’s 2014 prison census, the number of jailed journalists worldwide was 221, seven of whom were jailed in Turkey.