Turkish journalists: Turkey imprisons largest number of journalists in world

Turkish journalists say the Turkish regime is launching systematic arrest campaigns against the critical journalists or those who are opposed to the government of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Journalists who fled from Turkey fearing of persecution discussed the threats, which affected freedom media as what happened over the past few years in the country during a dialogue forum organized by Stockholm Center of Freedoms (SCF) in Stockholm, and its headquarters is located in the capital Stockholm, Sweden.

The seminar was titled "Freedom of the press: Documenting why and how journalists are imprisoned in Turkey".

The seminar was attended by the head of the Nordic Monitor Network for Research and Monitoring, the former head of the Ankara Office for the now-defunct Zaman Today newspaper, Abdullah Bozkurt and the secretary-general of the Stockholm Freedoms Center, who was previously the editor-in-chief of the daily al-Midan newspaper, which was closed by the government illegally in the year 2016.

Keynes gave a presentation on the crackdown campaigns which the media and journalists in Turkey are exposed to, a candidate for EU membership. "Compared with other countries, Turkey puts journalists in jails more than the rest of the world. The situation in Turkey is much worse than anyone thinks," he said

"Currently, about 200 journalists and media workers are not receiving the necessary attention from the international community or organizations defending journalists," he said.

Turkey occupies the 157th rank in a list of 180 countries prepared by Reporters without Borders on freedom of press and expression worldwide.

Referring to the perversion of the justice system in Turkey, Keynes said that "the Turkish prosecutor has made comments criticizing the government, as criminal evidence of belonging to a terrorist organization."

He confirmed, "The defendants are not chosen randomly, but systematically. When analyzing cases, we can easily notice that journalists who have criticized the government, talked about corruption or exposed Erdogan's support for the terrorist elements at home or abroad were blacklisted long ago."

He added, "By 2019, 47 journalists out of 123 journalists have been sentenced, while 34 journalists are still on trial, along with 30 journalists under investigation, while 12 files are pending before the High Court or Supreme Court."

"Erdogan's government is cracking down on press freedom to silence the journalists who have uncovered abuses committed by the government," Bozkurt said.

He added, "Erdogan seeks to establish a new authoritarian Turkey not based on the rule of law and respect for democratic values, fundamental rights and freedoms in order to implement this scheme. He needs and supports completely loyal media, and he has to close all independent, critical and opposition media outlets."

Transparency International's Head, Transparency International Network's Member, Oya Ozarslan, during an information workshop last February said, "The number of banned sites in Turkey doubled to record about 11,3398 sites, after it reached 40,000 in 2013."

In response to question whether the systematic campaign of intimidation was a threat to his life, Bozkurt said, "Along with many exiled journalists, they are concerned about their safety abroad because of the long arms of the Turkish government in pursuing the people who express and the views of opposition and threatening them."



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