Turkey has Highest Journalist Prisonment Record

NEW YORK (Reuter)–A record 185 journalists were in prison in 24 countries during 1996–with 78 of them in Turkish jails alone–the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Thursday.

Twenty-seven journalists were killed in the line of duty–26 of them by assassination and one in the plane crash in Croatia that also killed US Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown and his party–according to CPJ’s annual report–"Attacks on the Press in 1996."

The number of journalist deaths was cut by slightly more than half compared with 1995 when 57 were killed because of their work. The report said Algeria remained the most dangerous place for a reporter to work–with seven killed there in 1996–bringing the total to 59 since rebel factions began targeting journalists there four years ago.

A total of 474 journalists have been killed in the last decade–the report said.

Six reporters were killed in Russia–four in the Chechnya war. Among journalists killed in 1996 was Ireland’s famed investigative reporter Veronica Guerin who was killed in June by two gunmen while she was driving her car. One man was arrested for her murder earlier this year.

The record 185 imprisoned journalists was three higher than in 1995.

In terms of jailing journalists–Turkey was listed as the worst offender for the third straight year–the report said–adding that the formation of an Islamist-led government failed to alter the state’s ongoing persecution of journalists.

The committee’s executive director–William Orme–said–"Turkey is once again the single most egregious example of a government that criminalizes independent reporting. CPJ aims to direct a harsh public spotlight at this gross abuse of press freedom."

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