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For Immediate Release
3 April 1996

Avner Gidron
(212) 465-1004 x105

U.S. Journalists Call on Turkey to Release Imprisoned Reporters

Petition Urges New Prime Minister to Abolish Anti-Press Laws

New York -- The Committee to Protect Journalists today delivered to Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz a petition, signed by more than 50 American journalists and media executives, calling for the release of all journalists imprisoned in Turkey. The petition also urged Yilmaz to repeal laws that are used to jail journalists in Turkey.

“Turkey holds more journalists in prison than any other country,” said Avner Gidron, CPJ’s research director. “We are sending this petition to Prime Minister Yilmaz as a way of letting the Turkish government know that this is a matter of serious concern for journalists in the United States.”

“Unfortunately, it appears that the new government has not improved on its predecessor’s dismal press freedom record,” said Gidron. “Imprisonment of journalists and violence against the press is continuing.” At least seven journalists have been jailed in the past two weeks. And several reporters were brutally beaten by police at a recent student demonstration in Ankara.

In its annual report, Attacks on the Press in 1995,CPJ documented that, for the second consecutive year, Turkey holds more journalists in prison that any other nation, 51 at the end of 1995. Most of these reporters, editors, publishers and columnists were convicted under the terms of Articles 7 and 8 of the Anti-Terror Law and Article 312 of Turkey’s Penal Code.

Article 8, despite recent revisions, still criminalizes news reports that are purportedly “aimed at destroying the indivisibility of the Turkish state.” Article 7 similarly criminalizes all news articles deemed by the state to be “terrorist propaganda.” And Article 312 of Turkey’s Penal Code mandates up to three years in prison for writing that allegedly “incites hatred or enmity.”

Journalists attending the National Press Club’s Freedom of Information Day Program in Washington, D.C., signed appeals for the release of all journalists imprisoned in Turkey for practicing their profession and urging Prime Minister Yilmaz to seek a repeal of Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law and Article 312 of the Penal Code, and a revision of Article 7 of the Anti-Terror Law.

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