23 January 2012
Turkey’s record on press freedom remains deplorable, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has said, adding that it is disappointed the prime minister did not respond to a letter on the issue.
“We believe that the press freedom in Turkey is terrible,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon recently told the Hürriyet Daily News.
The CPJ condemned the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) raids that have detained up to 29 journalists and slammed the government’s attacks on media freedom in an open letter to the prime minister Dec. 20.
“We haven’t heard from the officials, and it is disappointing,” Simon said, adding that that they were committed to sending a delegation to Turkey to further investigate the issue.
“We heard that the government is quoting us when talking about the number of arrested journalists, and it worries us. We are very well aware of the situation,” he said, underlining that they had begun research to delve into the issue more deeply.
The institute had earlier said in a report that only eight journalists had been jailed in the country for their professional activities.
Simon said the reason for the figure, which is far lower than many other estimates, was that they wanted to ensure that those arrested were indeed imprisoned for their journalistic activities.
“We are concerned in many cases that the legal cases are unfair and charges are not credible but we want to make sure – that is why our number was listed so. But we are working on each case,” he said.
“The situation in Turkey is one of the world’s worst and it is nothing to be proud of,” Simon said, adding that the arrest of journalists was just the tip of the iceberg.
“There is an environment of intolerance and uncertainty in Turkey. The ongoing legal harassment [against] journalists and the vaguely worded anti-terror laws, combined with the government’s lashing of the media, create an environment of intolerance,” he said, adding that journalists spend an enormous amount of time battling legal charges.
There are currently 95 journalists jailed in Turkey, according to Turkey’s Contemporary Journalists Association (ÇGD).
The KCK is accused of being the urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).