Turkish police detain Italian journalist Bianchi ahead of critical elections

Italian journalist Lorenzo Bianchi was detained by police at Istanbul Atatürk Airport upon his arrival to cover Sunday’s presidential and parliamentary elections, according to a report by the online news outlet Gazete Karınca.

Bianchi is reportedly to be deported after being taken into custody on his way to observe the elections for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which represents a significant segment of the country’s Kurdish political movement.

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 244 journalists and media workers were in jail as of June 21, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 184 were under arrest pending trial while only 60 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 142 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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