US urges Turkey to end state of emergency, respect freedom of expression

US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert

The US on Thursday expressed “serious concern” about the widespread arrest and pre-trial detention of journalists critical of the Turkish government.

“We urge Turkey to end its state of emergency, respect and ensure freedom of expression, fair trial guarantees, judicial independence and other human rights and fundamental freedoms, and release those journalists and others who are held arbitrarily under emergency rule,” said US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert during a daily press briefing in Washington.

Turkey’s freedom status declined from Partly Free to Not Free in “Freedom in the World 2018: Democracy in Crisis,” the annual report released on Jan. 16 by Freedom House, a US-based independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 245 journalists and media workers are in jails as of January 24, 2018, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 218 are arrested pending trial, only 27 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 140 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. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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