ISTANBUL (Hürriyet Daily News)—There are serious concerns about freedom of press in Turkey, according to an international nongovernmental organization that defends journalists and media rights.
“We are seriously [worried about] the freedom of the press in Turkey. We do not even have an exact number of journalists who are being kept in prison under arrest,” Jean François Juillard, the secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, or RSF, said Tuesday.
RSF representatives have been conducting research for six days in Istanbul on the recent arrests and detention of journalists in Turkey and in an effort to review the state of press freedom in the country.
The group organized a press conference at the end of its mission in Istanbul to share its conclusions.
Noting that Turkey’s ranking of 138th in the world in terms of press freedom was worrying, Julliard said, “The important role of the security forces in the judgment process of issues related to freedom of press is concerning.”
“According to our website, there are five journalists in prisons, but professional organizations told us that there are 68 imprisoned journalists in Turkey. [Ahmet] Şık and [Nedim] Şener are not the only arrested journalists [in prison],” Julliard said.
Şık and Şener were arrested last month as part of the ongoing Ergenekon case, which is investigating an alleged ultranationalist plot to topple the elected government.
Julliard also said the rates of mistreatment of journalists had increased in the country and that there were about 2,000 court cases against journalists currently being processed.
“Violence against journalists has increased. Journalists are being assassinated. The government does not show respect to them, with Prime Minister Erdoğan likening Şık’s book to a bomb,” Julliard said, adding that most of the journalists in Turkey were under economic pressure and that self-censorship had made them abandon the news they prepare.