Over 16,450 people face legal actions over ‘acting against press law’ in Turkey under the rule of Erdoğan

Under the rule of Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of the Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since 2002, a total of 16,458 people (mostly journalists) have faced legal actions over accusations of ‘acting against the Turkish press law’ and 5,084 people were sentenced, according to a report by BirGün daily.

According to BirGün daily, Turkey’s main opposition Republican People Party (CHP) has released a report on the state of press freedom in the country by basing on data compiled by the Turkish government’s Directorate General of Press and Information (BYEGM) on the eve of the Press Day on July 24,

The report penned by the CHP deputy Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi has showed that İstanbul has been the first among the Turkish cities with the greatest number (68 percent) of the cases filed (11,206 cases) over Turkish press law. With 762 cases Ankara followed İstanbul as the second city and the third city has been İzmir with 398 cases.

BYEGM has stated that the number of registered and accredited journalists with active press cards given by the Turkish government has been 14,904 as of June 2017.  Moreover, Turkish government has arbitrarily cancelled 708 press cards belong to critical journalists in the aftermath of the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

It was also reported that the total number of cancelled press cards between January 1, 2013 and July 1, 2016 has been 35,991 while 30,343 of them were routine cancellations for renewal. 5,648 press cards have been cancelled with the reasons of misconduct; non-eligible police record and the reasons like permitting the press card to be used by someone other than the official holder.

According to the report, 11,370 applications for press cards have been declined by the BYEGM between 2013 and 2016 and among these 5,314 applications have been declined since the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has also documented that 264 journalists are now in jails as of July 18, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 240 are arrested pending trial, only 24 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 109 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.

July 23, 2017

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