Turkey remains the world's 'worst jailer' of journalists

by The Region    


The number of journalists imprisoned for their work reached a new record in 2017, with more than half put behind bars in Turkey, China and Egypt, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a report on Wednesday.

"In its annual prison census, CPJ found 262 journalists behind bars around the world in relation to their work, a new record after a historical high of 259 last year. The worst three jailers [Turkey, China, Egypt] are responsible for jailing 134 - or 51 percent - of the total," the report read.

According to the report, despite freeing some journalists this year, Turkey remains the world's "worst jailer" for the second year in a row with 73 media workers imprisoned, compared with 81 in 2016.

"The pattern reflects a dismal failure by the international community to address a global crisis in freedom of the press," the report stressed.

The report noted that every journalist found jailed in Turkey had been placed under investigation or charged with crimes against the state.

Ankara has arrested thousands of military personnel, activists, officials, journalists, legal and educational workers on suspicion of having links to Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen and his followers, accused by Turkey of playing a key role in the July 2016 failed coup attempt.

Besides media conglomerates linked to Gülen, Kurdish outlets have also been hit hard. They, at least, are used to crackdowns: In the past, Kurdish journalists in particular often ended up on trial for “terror propaganda” if seen to write or speak sympathetically about the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought the Turkish state for decades. When it comes to Kurdish journalists, newsgathering activities such as fielding tips, covering protests, and conducting interviews are seen as evidence of a crime.