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Turkey's Press Freedom Crisis

About This Report

Nina Ognianova, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, is the lead author of this report and directed its research. CPJ Senior European Adviser Jean-Paul Marthoz, Deputy Director Robert Mahoney, and Executive Director Joel Simon contributed reporting, as did CPJ’s Turkey-based researchers, Özgür Öğret, Şafak Timur, and Nebahat Kübra Akalın. Attorney Fikret İlkiz, a specialist in Turkish media law, served as CPJ’s legal consultant.

This report examines the mass imprisonment of journalists in Turkey, the criminal prosecutions of numerous others, and the use of governmental pressure to engender self-censorship in the press. CPJ research shows that Turkish authorities have waged one of the biggest crackdowns on press freedom in recent history. In compiling this report, CPJ staff conducted three fact-finding missions to Turkey in 2011 and 2012, meeting with dozens of journalists, analysts, and lawyers.

The extent of journalist imprisonments has been a matter of dispute, with the Turkish government asserting that independent assessments have been exaggerated. CPJ’s previous assessments, including one conducted in 2011, were much lower than many other independent estimates because the organization could not make appropriate determinations without reviewing in detail the legal evidence. CPJ’s 2011 survey drew considerable debate and criticism, prompting the organization to undertake a thorough case-by-case review led by its team of Turkey-based researchers.

CPJ’s new findings show 76 journalists in prison, at least 61 in direct relation to their work. The evidence against the other 15 journalists was less clear, and CPJ continues to investigate the basis of their detentions.

CPJ gratefully acknowledges the Turkish Union of Journalists, the Platform for Solidarity With Arrested Journalists, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's Representative on Freedom of the Media for having compiled comprehensive information on journalists imprisoned in Turkey. CPJ wishes to thank the independent news portal Bianet and the Dicle News Agency for their assistance in providing additional information on imprisoned journalists. CPJ also drew on the extensive research of Human Rights Watch and the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights. The Open Society Foundation-Turkey provided key support throughout the compilation of this report.

CPJ wishes to thank the writers who contributed sidebars. The Chapter 2 sidebar, “The Dignity of Speaking Out,” was written by the Turkish columnist and commentator Nuray Mert. The Turkey-based journalist Nicole Pope wrote “No Justice for Hrant Dink,” the sidebar to Chapter 3. “Online Censors Sharpen Tactics,” the sidebar to Chapter 5, was written by Danny O’Brien, CPJ’s Internet advocacy coordinator. Additional author information accompanies each piece. “Letters From Prison,” the sidebar to Chapter 4, is excerpted from material first published by Bianet, and is reprinted with permission.

This report was compiled as part of CPJ’s Free the Press Campaign, which is made possible through the generous support of the Adessium Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Molly Bingham, the Omidyar Network, and the Open Society Foundations.

(Photo by Reuters)

 

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