Turkish Justice Ministry claims unable to count number of jailed journalists

The Turkish Justice Ministry has failed to answer a parliamentary question from an opposition deputy about the number of journalists currently jailed in the country, saying it is unable to count them, Turkish media reported.

In response to the parliamentary question submitted by Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Utku Çakırözer, a former journalist, the ministry said counting journalists in prison requires “special and separate work, research, examination and analysis” and that the ministry could not count how many journalists are in Turkey’s jails.

Çakırözer criticized the ministry for its response, saying: “It’s easy to unlawfully and illegally put journalists on trial. The Justice Ministry could not say, ‘There are no jailed journalists,’ it said it couldn’t count them. Dozens of journalists are in jail while hundreds of them are standing trial.”

The Turkish government increased its crackdown on critical journalists and media organizations in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in July 2016 following which scores of journalists were imprisoned and dozens of media outlets closed down by the government on the pretext of an anti-coup fight.

The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 182 journalists and media workers were in jail as of August 15, 2019. Of those in prison 85 were under arrest pending trial, while 97 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 167 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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