Free Journalists Initiative: 41 more journalists detained across Turkey in March

The Free Journalists Initiative announced on Saturday that 41 more journalists were detained across Turkey during the month of March.

Holding a press conference at the offices of the Human Rights Association (İHD) in İstanbul, the Free Journalists Initiative (Özgür Gazeteciler İnisiyatifi, ÖGİ) released a review of the dire situation of press freedom in the country in March. According to the ÖGİ’s figures, there are 170 journalists in prisons across Turkey, with 41 more journalists detained during the month and 83 appearing in court.

Hakkı Boltan, spokesman for the ÖGİ, said the repression of media workers has continued to increase. “The Turkish government does not tolerate dissent,” Boltan said, and added: “We will continue to defend people’s right to freedom of information. The truth will never surrender to the lie.”

According to the ÖGİ, the balance sheet for freedom of the press in Turkey in March was as follows: 170 journalists are in prison; 41 journalists were detained; two journalists were arrested; lawsuits were filed against three journalists; 83 journalists appeared in court; 30 journalists were sentenced to a total of 178 years, four months’ imprisonment; a trustee was appointed to a newspaper and its printing house; the columns of some journalists were censored; the Doğan Media Group (DMG) was sold to the staunchly pro-government Demirören Group; the Internet was put under the control of regulatory authority RTÜK; and a newspaper was blocked by the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) 12 times.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 245 journalists and media workers were in jail as of March 26, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 189 were under arrest pending trial while only 56 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 140 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down about 200 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

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