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Journalist jailed on terror charges in Turkey

Journalists protest their imprisoned colleagues in Ankara in 2011. (AFP/Adem Altan)

Istanbul, December 17, 2012--Authorities in Turkey have arrested another reporter, news reports said, bringing to 50 the number of journalists jailed in Turkey in reprisal for their work.

Police arrested Sadiye Eser, correspondent for the daily Evrensel, on December 12 and charged her with being a member of the Union of Kurdistan Communities (KCK), an umbrella organization that includes the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which the government has deemed a terrorist organization, according to news reports.

"We call on Turkish authorities to release Sadiye Eser and end the practice of jailing journalists for covering critical or opposing viewpoints," CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said from New York. "Instead of adding new cases to the already outrageously long roster of journalists behind bars, Turkey must focus on reforming its deeply flawed legal system without delay."

Police asked Eser about political rallies she had covered as a journalist, as well as the notes she had kept on them, according to a statement by the Journalists' Union of Turkey. Devrim Avcı, Eser's lawyer, told CPJ that the evidence against her client included photographs taken at the rallies, and a banned book that police had seized from her home. "My client is a journalist," Avcı said. "She goes to such events as it is her job. The charge is like asking a journalist why she is practicing her profession."

Eser's court date has not yet been determined, news reports said. The journalist is being held at Bakırköy Prison in Istanbul.

With 49 journalists imprisoned for their work as of December 1, Turkey was the world's leading jailer of the press, surpassing Iran, China, and Eritrea, according to CPJ's annual worldwide census. The majority of the cases are Kurdish reporters and editors arraigned on terrorism-related charges.

In October, CPJ released an in-depth investigation into restrictive government policies and widespread imprisonment of journalists. Among CPJ's recommendations was that Turkey fundamentally reform its vaguely worded, all-encompassing anti-terror law, which conflates reporting on banned organizations with terrorism.

  • For more data and analysis on Turkey, visit CPJ's Turkey page here.

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