Turkey leads world with over 120 jailed journalists  - press watchdog

Turkey maintains a global record of jailed journalists with more than 120 behind bars, a global press watchdog said on Tuesday.

Press freedom in the country has not improved since the lifting of a two-year state of emergency last year, the International Press Institute (IPI) said in a new report. 

Turkey declared a state of emergency following the July 2016 coupt attempt. Despite the lifting of the emergency rule in July 2018,  Ankara has continued to arrest or place travel bans on scores of journalists. Around 150,000 judges, academics, military officers, civil servants and others were sacked during the two years of emergency rule on suspicion of backing a U.S.-based cleric blamed by Ankara for the coup. More than 77,000 people were jailed pending trial.

Hundreds of journalists have faced prosecution since the coup, mainly on terrorism-related charges, the global journalism organisation said, adding the number of journalists still in jail had fallen from a high of over 160.

“Behind those figures lies a story of egregious violations of fundamental rights, with dozens of journalists held on the most serious terrorism-related charges for months, sometimes years, pending trial, in many cases without an official indictment,” the report said.

Pointing out journalists were jailed “as a consequence of an extended, politically motivated crackdown against the media,” the IPI report said Turkey has been the world’s “undisputed leading jailor of journalists” for almost a decade.