Press freedom organizations to hold protest when Erdoğan visits UK

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A journalist holds a placard reading "free media" during a demonstration for the World Press Freedom Day on the Istiklal avenue, in Istanbul, on May 3, 2017. According to the P24 press freedom website on April 4, 2017, there are 141 journalists behind bars in Turkey, most of whom were detained as part of the state of emergency imposed after the failed coup. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

English PEN and other press freedom organizations have invited the public to join the “Free Turkey Media” protest to be held on May 15 outside Downing Street in London, where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

“Under the state of emergency declared following the failed coup attempt in July 2016, President Erdoğan has overseen an unprecedented crackdown on critical voices in Turkey, including the media. Turkey is now the world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists, and is ranked 157th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ 2018 World Press Freedom Index,” said English PEN in its announcement.

“Join English PEN, Index on Censorship, Reporters Without Borders, Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) and IFEX to send a strong message to the authorities, both in Turkey and the UK.”

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) show that 254 journalists and media workers were in jail as of May 8, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 192 were under arrest pending trial while only 62 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 142 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after the coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

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