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CPJ Calls Turkey 'World's Leading Jailer Of Journalists'

Protesters gather in front of the "Agos" newspaper office during a demonstration to mark the fifth anniversary of the killing of Turkish-Armenian editor Hrant Dink in Istanbul in January 2012.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned Turkey for being "the world's leading jailer of journalists."

In a report issued on October 22, the New York-based group said 76 journalists were in Turkish jails as of August 1, adding that 61 of them seemed to be there as a direct result of their work.

The report says the cases of the remaining 15 journalists are still being investigated by CPJ workers.

The report also notes that 70 percent of those journalists were Kurdish.

It says 30 percent of jailed journalists were accused of participating in plots against the government or membership in outlawed organizations.

The report also claims that three-quarters of jailed journalists have not yet been convicted of any crime but are held while they await "resolution of their cases."

According to the CPJ, the charges against these journalists often originate from the journalists speaking with "security officials or obtaining documents."

CPJ executive director Joel Simon said, "Turkey's tendency to equate critical journalism with terrorism is not justified by the country's security concerns."

The report cites Turkish media-freedom groups as reporting at the end of 2011 that there were some 5,000 criminal cases pending against journalists.

It also criticizes Turkish authorities for a 2007 Internet law that allows ad hoc filtering, which CPJ says is particularly noticeable against opposition and Kurdish websites.

The CPJ recommends that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan "should cease his attacks on the press and instead provide justice for journalists while pursuing reforms that guarantee freedom of expression."

The CPJ's Simon said, "As a rising regional and global power, Turkey's economic and political success should be matched by respect for the universal right to freely exchange news, information, and ideas."

According to the CPJ, the number of journalists in Turkish jails surpasses figures in Iran, China, or Eritrea, qualifying Turkey for the title of the world's leading jailer of journalists.

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