New York, March 11, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release this week of five Turkish journalists who were imprisoned after being sentenced to jail in connection with the controversial Ergenekon case. Three of the journalists–Yalçın Küçük, Deniz Yıldırım, and Merdan Yanardağ–were convicted because of their work, according to CPJ research. In the cases of Tuncay Özkan and Hikmet Çiçek, CPJ had not been able to establish a connection.
“We are pleased that the journalists have been released, but they should never have been imprisoned in the first place,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “Dozens of other journalists languish in state custody for no other crime than reporting the news and voicing opinion. We call on Turkish authorities to release all journalists imprisoned because of their work without delay.”
All of the journalists except Yıldırım were freed on Monday, according to reports. Yıldırım was released today. Turkey is the world’s leading jailer of journalists, according to CPJ’s 2013 prison census.