Turkey top jailer of female journalists, CPJ announces on International Women’s Day

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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

Turkey is the world’s top jailer of female journalists with 14 in prison, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) announced on March 8, International Women’s Day, the Ahval news website reported.

According to the US-based CPJ, focused on promoting press freedom, 32 female journalists are in prison around the world.

China follows Turkey with seven female journalists in jail.

“As the largest jailer of journalists in the world, it’s no surprise that Turkey has the most female journalists behind bars. Fourteen of the 68 journalists jailed there are women; most detained on anti-state charges,” the CPJ said.

Among the 14 female journalists in jail in Turkey, Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak and Hatice Duman are serving life sentences for anti-state crimes.

Veteran journalist Ilıcak was detained following a coup attempt in 2016.

She was convicted of aiding the faith-based Gülen movement, which the Turkish government accuses of orchestrating the failed coup.

“Evidence cited against Ilıcak in an indictment include a notebook, social media posts, a TV debate she hosted, during which two guests allegedly sent subliminal messages in favor of a military coup, her 2012 book, and newspaper columns she wrote in 1980,” the CPJ said.

Duman was charged with membership in the banned communist party and attempting to overthrow the government.

The CPJ said it found the charges unsubstantiated upon viewing court documents, adding that most of the charges were based on the testimony of Duman’s husband.

Journalists Hanım Büşra Erdal and Ayşenur Parıldak, who worked for the Gülen-linked Zaman newspaper, are in prison on terrorism-related charges.

A Turkish court in December sentenced journalist Ece Sevim Öztürk to more than three years in prison but ordered her release under a travel ban pending appeal.

Öztürk was also charged with links to the Gülen movement, with prosecutors presenting a documentary she produced, her Twitter posts and statements during a TV debate as evidence.

The remaining nine jailed female journalists worked for leftist and pro-Kurdish newspapers or news agencies.

Aslı Ceren Aslan, news editor for the pro-Kurdish biweekly newspaper Özgür Gelecek, was sentenced in 2017 to two-and-a-half years in prison on propaganda and terrorism charges.

Prosecutors argued her articles were propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Meltem Oktay, a reporter and photographer for the Dicle News Agency (DİHA), was sentenced to four years on charges of PKK propaganda over material published on social media.

İsminaz Temel and Seda Taşkın, both reporters for the Mezopotamya News Agency, are in prison for their news reports, while Reyhan Hacıoğlu and Hicran Ürün, editors at the Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspaper, shut down by government decree in July 2018, are detained on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.

Reyhan Çapan, news editor of the now shuttered pro-Kurdish Özgürlükçü Gündem newspaper, faces 169 charges including insulting the president, disrupting the unity of the state and membership in a terrorist organization.

Semiha Şahin and Pınar Gayıp are accused of disseminating terrorist propaganda and membership in a terrorist organization over their social media posts and employment by the socialist Etkin News Agency.

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