Turkey ‘World Leader’ In Jailed Journalists, IPI Report

IPI World Press Freedom Hero, Nedim Şener

ISTANBUL (Hurriyet Daily News)—Turkey has more journalists in prison than any other country in the world, including China and Iran, according to a press release issued Monday by the International Press Institute.

The group based its release on a report published by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE, that said 57 journalists are currently in prison in Turkey. As of December, Iran and China each had 34 journalists behind bars.

“While Iran and China topped lists in December by reportedly jailing some 34 journalists each, Turkey, a candidate for membership in the European Union, has nearly doubled that number five months later, raising questions about the country’s commitment to freedom of the press and the legitimacy of its democratic image,” IPI Press Freedom Adviser Steven M. Ellis wrote in an article featured on the institute’s website.

Daily Radikal meanwhile reported in its Friday edition that Aziz Özer, chief executive officer for the monthly culture and literature magazine Güney (South), had been sentenced to 1.5 years in prison because of a short story and a caricature he published that were determined to constitute “making propaganda” for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. The implementation of the sentence was not suspended.

In its report, the IPI also noted the case of journalist Nedim Şener, an IPI World Press Freedom Hero who was arrested recently on accusations of being a member of the alleged Ergenekon coup-plot gang. Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE representative on media freedom, who commissioned the report, called upon Turkish authorities to bring the standards of press freedom in Turkey up to meet its OSCE commitments.

The IPI also drew attention to the fact that there are between 700 and 1,000 ongoing cases in Turkey that could result in the imprisonment of more journalists.

“The sheer number of cases poses fundamental questions about the legal provisions governing journalism in Turkey and raises concerns that the number of journalists in prison could further increase,” said Mijatovic.

The report conceded that governments do have a legitimate need to fight terrorism, but stressed that the notion of national security should not be used as a basis to curb press freedom. The IPI noted that most of the arrested journalists were taken into custody either under Turkey’s anti-terror law or for alleged crimes under the criminal code’s prohibitions on “founding, leading or becoming a member of an armed organization for the purpose of committing certain offenses.”

The report also noted the extremely long sentences requested by for journalists. Ibrahim Çiçek and Bayram Namaz from Atılım newspaper, for example, each face up to 3,000 years in prison.

“These journalists are in jail because of Turkey’s anti-terror Law. This law threatens the freedom of press, and investigative journalists live under its menace. We find this unacceptable. We made a request to the government to change this law, but unfortunately the government does not lend an ear to professional journalist associations,” said Ferai Tınç, the chair of IPI’s Turkey National Committee and an IPI board member.

“Turkey, at the crossroads between East and West, is a major regional power with an ancient cultural heritage. The country is also often held up as an example of a healthy Muslim democracy,” said IPI director Alison Bethel McKenzie, who warned that moving away from this history and imprisoning more journalists than any other country is damaging.

McKenzie also called on the Turkish government to respect press freedom and release all journalists who have been detained because of their work.


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  1. Murat Ozotoglu said:

    These jailings are for speaking out against Hizmet (Gulen Movement) Sik had written a book “Imam Inordusu” (The Imam’s Army) regarding our favorite exiled con man. Gulen controls the police and had them all rounded up, there is no such thing as Ergenekon, these writers had nothing to do with any deaths of Christians or anyone else…this is more of Gulen’s framing and creating an enemy.

    So Gulen and his cronies did what they do best — they framed the guy, along with many other journalists and had them arrested. It was a good day for the Gulenites and a bad day for freedom of speech.

    Of course Gulen denied having anything to do with it, but if you read Sik’s book, it will soon become crystal clear that in fact, Gulen and his Turkish mafia had everything to do with it.

    According to a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer, when the Turkish newspaper The Zaman asked Gulen about Sik’s arrest, he reportedly replied, “Many books against me personally have been published, but I have never been engaged in efforts to prevent the publication of a book” (Gatti).

    Sure Gulenites, we believe that like we believe that your cult members are more qualified to teach American students than American teachers, like we believe that you are not extorting money from your own people, and like we believe that you do not threaten, intimidate, harass, and yes — have people imprisoned — when they don’t conform to your cult mentality.

    And the Easter Bunny is on the way…

    The book is written in Turkish and requires translation.

  2. Vatche said:

    Let us clean our own backyard before criticizing our neighbour. We should be as critical of the present Armenian leadership (no matter the party affiliation) as we are of of Turkey. When you find ways of blocking dissent through the detention of journalists, the shutdown of publications, etc. you achieve only a NEGATIVE IMAGE and nothing else! Armenia and its present leadership have become a joke in the West. When will they stop monitoring the crowds as if they were still in Soviets times! How ridiculous is it that all incoming traffice to Yerevan is monitored and controlled when there is a protest! Enough of the bolshevik way… enough of the communist blood in their vains and brains…

  3. manooshag said:

    Hye Vatche, you nailed it precisely… the bolshevik/communist mentality prevails in all the leaderships the citizenry of our Haiastan has had to bear these 20 years… these leaders have been as harmful to our homeland as the Turks and the Azeris have been since the 19th, 20th, and now 21st centuries. Worse, because these self-centered Armenian leaderships these 20 years, been/are as destructive via their muslim and too, their communistic mentalities – against the fledgling nation of Haiastan. Our Armenian nation is deserving and worthy of honest and patriots to advance and progress ALL our citizens of Haiastan – not just those unduly/dishonestly elected and who pocket/steal from our citizens of Haiastan. Manooshag