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German parliamentarians to play football friendly with Turkish journalists

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Some members of the German Bundestag will play a football friendly with a group of Turkish journalists in a bid to raise awareness about the situation of more than 250 journalists jailed around the world, Deutsche Welle reported on Monday.

The friendly will be played in Berlin on Tuesday night. The Bundestag football team’s captain, Marcus Weinberg, a lawmaker from the ranks of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said they would like to draw attention to the situation of the 262 jailed journalists across the world with the match.

Weinberg said Turkey, as the country which has the largest number of jailed journalists in the world, comes at the top of the “list of shame,” adding that the German lawmakers will have the opportunity to make some interesting conversation with the Turkish journalists after the match.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. There are conflicting reports about the number of jailed journalists in Turkey, but the most recent figures documented by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) show that 237 journalists and media workers were in jail as of October 7, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 169 were under arrest pending trial while only 68 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 148 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

“Freedom of the press is one of the most significant foundations of a free and democratic society,” said Weinberg.

The German politician explained that in a place where press freedom is not allowed, other rights violations are certain to take place.

“We cannot ignore this,” he added.

On the Bundestag football team are some 80 members of the German Parliament from all political parties represented in the legislature. The football team’s players wear the jersey of the German national football team and play around 20 matches in a year in a bid to attract public attention to issues or to raise money for charity.

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