Turkey’s Press Freedom Crisis

The Dark Days of Jailing Journalists and Criminalizing Dissent

Turkish authorities are engaging in widespread criminal prosecution and jailing of journalists, and are applying other forms of severe pressure to promote self-censorship in the press, a CPJ analysis shows. CPJ has found highly repressive laws, particularly in the penal code and anti-terror law; a criminal procedure code that greatly favors the state; and a harsh anti-press tone set at the highest levels of government. Turkey’s press freedom situation has reached a crisis point. A special report by the Committee to Protect Journalists

Issued October 2012

* Download the full report as a PDF


About this Report

1. Summary

2. Assault on the Press

The authorities are waging one of the world’s biggest anti-press campaigns in recent history. Dozens of writers and editors are in prison, nearly all on terrorism or other anti-state charges. The evidence against them? Their journalism.

Sidebar: The Dignity of Speaking Out

When Nuray Mert questioned policy, the prime minister made it personal.

3. The Anti-State Prosecutions

The government’s broad inquiry into the Ergenekon plot ensnared investigative reporters Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener. But the evidence, rather than revealing conspirators, points to a government intent on punishing critical reporters.

Sidebar: No Justice for Hrant Dink

In the case of a slain journalist, prosecutorial zeal is conspicuously absent.

4. The Kurdish Cases

Turkish authorities conflate support for the Kurdish cause with terrorism itself. When it comes to Kurdish journalists, newsgathering activities such as fielding tips, covering protests, and conducting interviews are evidence of a crime.

Sidebar: Letters From Prison

Hamdiye Çiftçi’s photos made her a wanted woman. Her story and others.

5. Test of Political Will

Ankara sees itself as a regional model for democracy and freedom, but its aspirations are deeply compromised by its anti-press practices. Turkey’s leaders must demonstrate the political will to dismantle the country’s complex system of media repression.

Sidebar: Online Censors Sharpen Tactics

Blocking YouTube drew global attention. But the danger is in the censors’ finer strokes.

6. Recommendations

CPJ’s recommendations to Turkish authorities and the international community.

Appendix I: Journalists in Prison

Capsule reports on journalists in prison in Turkey as of August 1, 2012.

Appendix II: Government Responses

Letters from Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin and Ambassador Namık Tan.



(Photo by Reuters)