New York, October 10, 2017–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the conviction today of Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak, and called on Turkish authorities to stop their relentless crackdown on the press. As the Journal reported, a court in the southeastern city of Cizre convicted Albayrak in absentia of terrorism and sentenced her to two years and one month in prison in relation to her reporting on clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdish separatists in the country’s southeast. She is appealing the verdict, according to the Journal.
“We call on Turkish authorities not to contest Ayla Albayrak’s appeal and to drop all charges against her,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “Dozens of journalists are imprisoned for their work in Turkey and this conviction is a signal that conditions for the press are continuing to deteriorate. Rather than dispensing justice, Turkey’s judicial system has become an instrument of persecution.”
With at least 81 journalists behind bars, Turkey was the leading jailer of the press as of December 1, 2016, when CPJ last conducted its global annual census. Turkey’s crackdown this year has snared several journalists working for international publications. In February, Deniz Yücel, a reporter for the German newspaper Die Welt, was jailed on terrorism accusations in retaliation for his critical articles; he is still in custody. French journalists Loup Bureau and Mathias Depardon were each detained on separate occasions while reporting in southeast Turkey; they were subsequently released.