Prison administration investigates Kurdish journalist for map showing Turkey smaller than actual size

The administration of a high-security prison in the eastern province of Van launched an investigation into jailed Kurdish journalist Nedim Türfent for a world map depicting Turkey as smaller than its actual size, the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency reported on Tuesday.

The map was on the cover of a German grammar textbook that belonged to Türfent, who has been in jail since March 2016 for his reports on clashes that had escalated between the Turkish army and Kurdish insurgents in cities and towns in southeastern Turkey.

The book was found in Türfent’s prison cell in September by guards during a routine search. Prison officials asked the administration to impose a disciplinary punishment on the journalist, saying Turkey on the map was smaller than it should be.

Asked to submit a defense to the prison administration, Türfent said he used the book to improve his German.

The officials in charge of the disciplinary investigation also tracked down the publishing house that printed the book and concluded that the size of Turkey could have been made smaller in error as the map on the back cover was small in scale. The disciplinary committee decided Türfent did not engage in a criminal act by keeping the book and ruled against any disciplinary punishment.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 237 journalists and media workers were in jail as of October 17, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 169 were under arrest pending trial while only 68 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 148 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 some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. (SCF with Ahval)

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