Fifty-seven journalists are imprisoned in Turkey – and between 700 and 1,000
ongoing trials could result in the imprisonment of more journalists there –
according to a study by the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE),
based in Vienna.
The International Press Institute stated that Turkey is
now the country with the most imprisoned journalists, surpassing Iran and China.
As of December, 34 journalists in both of those nations are in prisons.
Press freedom, Turkish style
Human Rights Watch slams journalists' arrest in Turkey
Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE’s representative on freedom of the media, wrote a
letter to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stating the report, released
last week, is intended to demonstrate that Turkey is in need of legislative
reforms to protect journalists, for which she offered the assistance of her
The OSCE, an international security organization consisting of 56
member states, including Turkey, noted most journalists imprisoned in Turkey are
sentenced under two articles of Turkey’s antiterrorism law, and an article of
the country’s criminal code. The articles in question relate to assisting,
establishing or commanding armed terror organizations or creating propaganda for
“Media outlets reporting about sensitive issues are often
regarded by the authorities as the publishing organs of illegal organizations,”
the report stated. “Writing about sensitive issues – including issues of
terrorism or antigovernment activities – is often considered as supporting those
Ferai Tinc, chairman of IPI’s committee on Turkey and an IPI
board member, stated that Turkey’s anti-terrorism law “threatens press freedom
in Turkey,” in an IPI commentary about the OSCE report.
“We have asked
the government to change this law, but, unfortunately, the government does not
listen to the voices of professional journalism organizations,” Tinc
The OSCE’s study also noted that journalists in Turkey can be
imprisoned for up to three years before their trials begin – and journalists can
also face multiple court trials – with one reporter possibly having to undergo
150 trials. The longest prison sentence a Turkish journalist has received is 166
years; and the longest sentence sought by prosecutors has been 3,000
The OSCE report also stated that journalists are imprisoned in
high-security prisons, alongside the most dangerous criminals. If cases are
classified as “secret” by the Turkish government, even the journalists’ defense
attorneys cannot obtain access to trial documents.
The OSCE was unable to
confirm details about certain journalists’ cases for that reason.
compilation of imprisoned Turkish journalists and information about their cases,
which accompanied the report, was prepared by Erol Onderoglu, editor-in-chief of
the Istanbul-based BIANET Independent Communications Network.
commitments stress that everyone has the right to freedom of expression,”
Mijatovic said in a statement. This right includes freedom to hold opinions and
to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public
Turkey reaffirmed its commitment to freedom of expression at
the OSCE’s summit last year in Astana, Kazakhstan.