Report: Turkish government detained at least 187 journalists in 2017

At least 187 journalists were detained by Turkish government in 2017, according to a report released by Free Journalists Initiative (ÖGİ) in Diyarbakır on Wednesday. 

Holding a press conference at the Diyarnakır Branch of the Turkish Journalists’ Union (TGS) on Wednesday, ÖGİ has introduced the “Report on the Violations of Media Freedom in 20017 ” both in Turkish and Kurdish languages. While the Kurdish version of the report was introduced by ÖGİ spokesman Hakkı Boltan, Turkish version was announced by journalist Ömer Tur.

Stating that access to the internet sites of 4 media outlets was being blocked by Turkish authorities just hours before the announcement of report, it was said that the pressures applied to the press in 2017 are also continuing in 2018 as well.

The ÖGİ has shared its findings in regard of pressure targeting journalists and media outlets in Turkey as follow:

At least 187 journalists were detained by Turkish government in 2017. Most of the journalists were either taken into custody during the news follow-up or by raid on their houses on “tip-off.” At least 58 journalists were arrested by Turkish courts and most of these arrested journalists are in jail as their trials continue. News articles and photos were shown as criminal evidence in the indictments prepared by Turkish prosecutors about the imprisoned journalists. 

Currently, at least 165 journalists are kept in prisons across Turkey. In 2017, 189 journalists have been sued by public authorities. At least 81 journalists were sentenced to pay fine and imprisonments.  Turkish courts have given 183 years 4 months 18 days imprisonment, and 333,120 TL fine to 81 journalists in 2017. At least 373 journalists have still been tried. At least 18 journalists were attacked on duty. One journalist was kidnapped and threatened with death. One journalist was threatened with weapons as h/she was on duty. One journalist was killed.

At least 35 media outlets were closed by Turkish government with executive decrees (KHK) under the  under the ongoing rule of emergency. The assets of the media companies that were closed by the government in 2016 were sold by the Turkey’s state-run Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF).

The Turkish government has also removed 3 critical television channel from TURKSAT. The government has revoked the licence of 5 critical television channels. The government has blocked the access to the websites of 37 media outlets. At least 5 foreign journalists were deported. At least 25 journalists were fired and at least 100 journalists’ press cards were canceled.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 242 journalists and media workers are in jails as of December 30, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 215 are arrested pending trial, only 27 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 138 journalists who live 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 more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.

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