"The European Commission expressed serious concern about developments in the area of rule of law and fundamental rights (in Turkey)." It is progress report season in Brussels. As every year in early October, the commissioner in charge of enlargement unveils documents that judge the progress of all candidate countries in adopting European Union (EU) laws and standards, and Turkey is at the forefront.
Reuters editor-at-large Harry Evans had a question for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: Would he be willing to meet with a delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Press Institute (IPI) when it visited Turkey?
New York, August 8, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by comments made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan against a journalist on Thursday. At an election rally in southern Turkey, Erdoğan called Amberin Zaman, local correspondent for The Economist, "a shameless militant disguised under the name of a journalist," and urged her to "know your place," the Economist reported. The prime minister was reacting to remarks Zaman made when she interviewed an opposition leader on TV the day before. Pro-government supporters took to social media and condemned Zaman's comments.
Four years ago, when CPJ launched its Internet Advocacy program, we were met with lots of encouragement, but also some skepticism.
"Why do you need a program to defend the Internet?" one supporter asked. "You don't have a special program to defend television, or radio, or newspapers."
But the Internet is different. Increasingly, when it comes to global news and information the Internet is not a platform. It is the platform.
The state-run Anadolu news agency reported on July 10, 2014, that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asked the Ankara Public Prosecutor's Office to launch a criminal investigation against Bülent Keneş, editor-in-chief of the English-language daily newspaper Today's Zaman, on charges of "insulting a public official."
Erol Özkoray, Turkish journalist and author, appeared in court for the third time on June 18, 2014, on charges of insulting the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in his book, The Gezi Phenomenon, according to news reports. The book covered the popular anti-government protests that erupted in Turkey in 2013 after the government announced its decision to turn a park in downtown Istanbul into a shopping mall.
On June 23, 2014, Hasnian Kazim, a German journalist who covered Turkey for the German magazine Der Spiegel, told the daily Hürriyet that he had temporarily fled the country after receiving online death threats.
On June 12, 2014, Mehmet Düzenli, a cartoonist, was taken into custody to begin serving a three-month prison term he was given after being convicted of insulting controversial religious leader and TV figure Adnan Oktar (also known as Harun Yahya) in his drawings. The daily pro-opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet reported that Düzenli was convicted by the 2nd Penal Court of Peace in Serik, Antalya province, on April 10, 2014. Düzenli is serving his term at Alanya Prison in the Alanya district of Antalya, the reports said.
New York, June 3, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by today's reports that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Parliament called CNN journalist Ivan Watson a "flunky" and said the foreign press was "literally executing their duties as agents" in connection with the coverage of protests in Istanbul. The move follows the brief detention and manhandling by police of Watson and multiple Turkish journalists on Saturday, according to news reports.
CPJ's Brazil report spurs government meetings on press freedom
CPJ board member María Teresa Ronderos and CPJ Senior Program Coordinator Carlos Lauría traveled to Brasilia this month to launch a new special report, "Halftime for the Brazilian press," and met with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, as well as other high-level government officials. CPJ also presented President Rousseff with the report's recommendations.
Brazil is home to a vibrant investigative press, but journalists are murdered regularly and their killers go free, CPJ's report found. Brazil is the 11th deadliest country in the world for journalists, and at least 10 have been killed in direct reprisal for their work since President Rousseff came to power, CPJ research shows.
New York, May 12, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release from jail today of five Turkish journalists--Nurettin Fırat, Yüksel Genç, Turabi Kişin, Ertuş Bozkurt, and Ramazan Pekgöz. The journalists were arrested in December 2011 as part of the Turkish government's crackdown on pro-Kurdish news outlets and were accused of membership or participation in the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan party, or KCK. The journalists are under a travel ban and still face charges, according to reports.
New York, May 9, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release from jail on Thursday of Fusün Erdoğan, former general manager of Özgür Radyo, and Bayram Namaz, a columnist for the weekly Atılım, and urges Turkish authorities to remove restrictions on their travel and lift their prison sentences on appeal.
New York, April 30, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is disturbed by reports in Turkey's pro-government media that made false claims about CPJ. The reports said CPJ made a statement on April 18 saying Turkey holds only 15 journalists behind bars. CPJ did not issue a statement.
By Shazdeh Omari/CPJ News Editor
New York, April 29, 2014—Uzbek editor Muhammad Bekjanov has been in jail for 15 years, one of the longest imprisonments of journalists worldwide. Prominent Iranian journalist Siamak Ghaderi was imprisoned in 2010 and has been beaten and whipped in custody. Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Van Hai, serving a 12-year jail term, could barely walk or talk during a prison visit in July 2013, his family said.
New York, April 21, 2014--A court in Baku today ordered journalist Rauf Mirkadyrov, Turkey correspondent for the independent Azerbaijani newspaper Zerkalo, to jail for three months pending trial on espionage charges after he was deported from Turkey, news reports said.
New York, April 11, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists congratulates Turkish investigative journalist and book author Ahmet Şık on being awarded UNESCO's prestigious Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. The annual prize, named after slain Colombian journalist Guillermo Cano Isaza, honors a journalist or organization that "has made an outstanding contribution to the defense of press freedom." Şık will receive the award on May 2 at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris, as part of the UNESCO celebrations for World Press Freedom Day.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: We are writing to express our concern about the Turkish government's recent steps to restrict the independent Turkish media. In the recent past, your country was hailed as a model for a region aspiring for freedom, democracy, and tolerance. But today Turkey is being criticized as a country that is drifting away from the principles and practices that define true democracy.
A CPJ delegation traveled to Pakistan this month and met with high-level Pakistani officials including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who pledged to continue to expand Pakistan's media freedoms and address the insecurity plaguing the country's journalists.
New York, March 27, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release this week of at least eight imprisoned journalists in Turkey, but calls on Turkish authorities to scrap the charges against them and release all of the journalists jailed in the country.
In less than a week, Turkish voters will cast their ballots in local elections widely seen as a test of support for embattled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has faced growing questions about official corruption since a high-level probe first became public in December. Although many observers believe Erdoğan will survive the current political crisis , the prime minister's increasingly autocratic posturing has given rise to questions about his long-term political viability.
New York, March 21, 2014--Turkey banned access to the social media platform Twitter on Friday, hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened in a public speech to shut it down, according to news reports. The move comes just ahead of March 30 elections and follows Erdoğan's threats to ban Facebook and YouTube.
New York, March 20, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned about Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's threats today to close down Twitter. The threats come only days after he vowed to shut down Facebook and YouTube in Turkey.
New York, March 11, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release this week of five Turkish journalists who were imprisoned after being sentenced to jail in connection with the controversial Ergenekon case. Three of the journalists--Yalçın Küçük, Deniz Yıldırım, and Merdan Yanardağ--were convicted because of their work, according to CPJ research. In the cases of Tuncay Özkan and Hikmet Çiçek, CPJ had not been able to establish a connection.
New York, March 7, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's threats to shut down YouTube and Facebook in order to, in the premier's words, prevent the negative impact of the Internet on society.
Calls for journalists to exercise a sense of responsibility are very often code for censorship. Yet unethical journalism can also imperil the press. By Jean-Paul Marthoz
The Gezi Park protests force some independent-minded journalists to confront the media's unwillingness to take on the government. By Nicole Pope
For the second year in a row, Turkey was the world's leading jailer of the press, with 40 journalists behind bars, according to CPJ's annual prison census. Authorities continued to harass and censor critical voices, firing and forcing the resignation of almost 60 reporters in connection with their coverage of anti-government protests in Gezi Park in June. The government tried to censor coverage of sensitive events, threatened to restrict social media, and, in one case, used social media to wage a smear campaign against a journalist. Peace negotiations between the government and the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, did not result in the expected release of Kurdish journalists. Legal amendments undertaken by the government did not result in meaningful reform of anti-press laws. In March, the Turkish Parliament began examining a bill known as the "fourth reform package," aimed at aligning the country's laws with international standards. The bill, adopted in September, introduced modest advancements, such as limiting the scope of a provision of the anti-terror law—"making terrorist propaganda"—that has been used against journalists, especially those who had reported on opposition parties. But the amendments did not address one of the most problematic articles of the penal code—"membership of an armed organization"—under which more than 60 percent of the imprisoned journalists in Turkey as of December 1, 2013, were charged. The jailing of journalists, the conflation of criticism with terrorism, and the government's heated anti-press rhetoric, which emboldened prosecutors to go after critics, marred Turkey's press freedom record and thwarted its aspirations to be regarded as a regional leader and democratic model.
San Francisco, February 6, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Turkish President Abdullah Gül to veto the Internet bill passed Wednesday by the Turkish Parliament. The bill would grant the Turkish government unprecedented control over the Internet by allowing Web pages to be blocked without a court order, requiring mandatory data retention by Internet Service Providers, and authorizing the government to seize user data on demand, all without meaningful procedural safeguards.
The Turkish parliament is on the verge of voting on radical censorship measures that, if approved, would allow the government to block individual URLs without prior judicial review, mandate Internet data retention for periods of up to two years, and consolidate Internet Service Providers (ISPs) into a single association, among other changes. If passed, the amendments to Turkey's already restrictive Internet law would compound a dismal record on press freedom in the country, which is the leading jailer of journalists worldwide. Unsurprisingly, the proposed amendments are causing outrage among free expression activists and journalists in Turkey and around the world.
New York, January 8, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the news that three abducted journalists in Syria have been freed this week. The Swedish Foreign Ministry confirmed today that freelance Swedish journalists Magnus Falkehed and Niclas Hammarstrom, both of whom were abducted in November, were released. On Sunday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Turkish intelligence services had helped secure the release of Milliyet photojournalist Bünyamin Aygün, who had been held for more than a month.
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