Turkey: World Champion in Arresting Journalists

Journalists worldwide are being persecuted as governments are cracking down on them each day that passes. But there are a few countries that seem to stand out from the crowd almost every year.

Journalists worldwide are being persecuted as governments are cracking down on them each day that passes. But there are a few countries that seem to stand out from the crowd almost every year.

According to an annual survey conducted by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an advocacy group based in New York, a total of 274 journalists were arrested in 2020 up until December 1st when the group started conducting their annual survey.

China came first for the second year in a row by having 47 journalists behind bars, while Turkey came in second this year also for the second year in a row after 2019, with 37 journalists arrested. Not to count last week’s trial that sentenced exiled journalist Can Dündar to 27 and a half years in jail for reporting on Turkey’s smuggling of weapons to rebel groups in Syria.

But Turkey isn’t a country that’s shy from taking the first prize, especially with their 82 million population compared to China’s 1.393 billion.

The years 2016, 2017, and 2018 have all seen Turkey consecutively become the world’s worst journalist jailor by having the highest number of journalists in jail.

 

Every journalist arrested in Turkey faces anti-state charges, and some of them are even allowed to await trial on parole. With the pandemic in 2020, judicial proceedings have been suspended for three months, which only meant three more months in jail for those in custody.

According to (CPJ), three more journalists who worked for the pro-Kurdish outlet Mezopotamya News Agency were arrested for their reporting. One of the journalists, Cemil Uğur, wrote in a story that Turkish military personnel arrested, tortured, and threw two villagers from a helicopter, which led to one of them’s death. Turkish officials have since stated that the civilians were injured resisting arrest.

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