Turkey: imprisoned journalists publish own newspaper

Denouncing dozens of arrests of fellow professionals

10 January, 18:43

(ANSAmed) - ANKARA, JANUARY 10 - Already into its second issue, the newspaper written by journalists awaiting trial in Turkey aims to direct attention on this noteworthy feature of the country's judicial process.

The 16-page publication bears the title ''Tutuklu Gazete'' (''Imprisoned Newspaper'') and, as is being reported on various websites, one hundred thousand copies of it feature as supplements in several Turkish dailies. The editorial team comprises 43 journalists who have been imprisoned, along with two others who have recently been released, and two ''guest'' columnists.

''If I am free and you are free, then we are all free: otherwise we are all in prison,'' wrote Nedim Sener, an investigative journalist who has gotten up a few noses and winner of an international award, presently in prison on the accusation of having taken part in an attempted coup. ''We are journalists, not terrorists,'' runs one of the headlines in the paper, which includes contributions from Mustafa Balbay, a journalist and opposition MP who was denied parliamentary immunity as he is accused of being a fellow plotter with Sener (the plot of the Ergenekon organisation).

According to recent data from a professional association, 97 journalists are currently in prison in Turkey. Apart from four cases, the government denies that they are in prison because of what they wrote, and is promising in any case to change laws that allowing arrests and remand sentences which can last up to ten years in Turkey. Turkey is fourth from bottom in the world's press-freedom league table drawn up by the World Economic Forum and only in 82nd place for independence of the judiciary. Arrests of journalists are often criticised by European institutions, the OECD, the USA, the country's own opposition and various associations for the safeguarding of human rights.

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