Istanbul, August 7, 2013--A Turkish appellate court should overturn the convictions of numerous journalists who have been convicted in connection with Ergenekon, a broad anti-government conspiracy, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The journalists were convicted on flawed penal and anti-terror laws that conflate news coverage and commentary with terrorism.
Today, hope for peace between the government of Turkey and Kurdish rebels is closer than ever to becoming reality. A resolution to the conflict, after more than 30 years, could have ramifications for Turkey's standing as the world's worst jailer of journalists. According to CPJ research, three-quarters of the journalists imprisoned in Turkey are from the pro-Kurdish media.
Istanbul, December 28, 2012--Turkish authorities on Thursday released Soner Yalçın, owner and publisher of the ultranationalist-leftist news website Odatv, from prison for the duration of his trial, according to news reports. Yalçın, who has been jailed since February 2011 on anti-state charges, could be re-arrested and jailed if he is convicted.
This week I joined CPJ board Chairman Sandra Mims Rowe, Executive Director Joel Simon, and Turkish researcher Özgür Ögret in Istanbul to present CPJ's latest report, "Turkey's Press Freedom Crisis," and convey our main press freedom concerns, including the mass imprisonment of journalists.
The Committee to Protect Journalists prepared this report to highlight the widespread criminal prosecution and jailing of journalists in Turkey, along with the government’s use of various forms of pressure to engender self-censorship in the press. CPJ’s analysis found highly repressive laws, particularly in the penal code and anti-terror law; a criminal procedure code that greatly favors the state; and a harsh anti-press tone set at the highest levels of government. Turkey’s press freedom situation has reached a crisis point.
Nuray Mert, one of Turkey’s most prominent political columnists and commentators, had a long history as a government critic, but in the view of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, her comments last year opposing administration policies toward ethnic Kurds went too far. Erdoğan lashed out with a personal attack that implied Mert was traitorous, setting off a torrent of public vitriol—including threats to her safety—and prompting her politically sensitive bosses to cancel her television show and newspaper column.
Journalist Ahmet Şık found himself behind bars for writing a book that was not even published. So explosive was the subject of The Imam’s Army that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan likened it to a bomb. Şık was probing too far into one of the most influential and underreported forces in modern Turkish politics—the Gülen movement.
For the past several months, CPJ staff has been investigating pervasive press freedom problems in Turkey, including the widespread jailing of journalists. This month, CPJ will release an in-depth report on press conditions in Turkey. In advance of our report, we are publishing this interview with Nedim Șener, an investigative reporter who was jailed for more than a year in 2011-12. The interview was conducted via email and translated from the original Turkish.
In Istanbul, the trial of several suspects in the case of Odatv, an ultranationalist website harshly critical of the government, continues to great consternation. When the case began in early 2011, a dozen journalists were charged, 10 of whom were incarcerated. The prosecution said Odatv staffers, along with prominent investigative reporters Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener, were involved in the alleged Ergenekon plot--a supposed large-scale conspiracy to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.