Turkey’s FM: Not a single journalist imprisoned for reporting

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Turkish Foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. / AFP PHOTO / FREDERICK FLORIN

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has told Spanish media that not a single journalist is imprisoned in Turkey due to their reporting and that those who are behind bars supported terrorism and an attempted coup.

Although Turkey has been called the world’s worst jailer of journalists, Çavuşoğlu said he would like to know who has been imprisoned because of journalistic activities, if there is such a person.

In controversial remarks, Çavuşoğlu claimed that those who present themselves as journalists supported terrorism and the coup attempt of July 15 and used the media as a propaganda tool.

Although the government tends to downplay journalism woes in Turkey, as recently as Feb. 1, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said there are only 30 journalists in Turkey’s prisons and that some jailed individuals may have wrongfully presented their profession as journalism.

Responding to a parliamentary question from main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Barış Yarkadaş about the number of incarcerated journalists, Bozdağ said there were 30 journalists in jail as of Nov. 22, 2016, contrary to reports putting the number at more than 190.

In his response, Bozdağ said it would be wrong to calculate the number of imprisoned journalists based on the statements they gave of their profession because some individuals may falsely present themselves as journalists.

In another statement in April 2016, Bozdağ said there were two journalists with press cards in Turkey’s prisons.

Bozdağ’s response sparked criticism from Yarkadaş, who accused the minister of giving incorrect figures concerning the number of journalists in jail.

Yarkadaş said there are currently 149 incarcerated journalists in Turkey.

“It is also the first time the government has talked about the imprisonment of 30 journalists. Let alone 30, not even one journalist should be jailed in a country due to their journalistic activities,” Yarkadaş said.

According to a January 2017 report from new advocacy group the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), 191 journalists are in jail, 92 are wanted and 839 have been charged in Turkey.

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