Mar 08 2019

Turkey world’s top jailer of women journalists - Committee to Protect Journalists

Turkey is the world’s top jailer of women journalists with 14 in prison, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a U.S. based organisation promoting press freedom, said on Friday.

According to the CPJ, 32 female journalists are in prison worldwide, and China follows Turkey with seven women journalists behind bars.

“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 on International Women’s Day.

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

Veteran journalist Ilıcak was detained following a coup attempt in 2016. She was sentenced for aiding the Gülen movement, a religious group that plotted the coup attempt according to the Turkish government.

“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 favour of a military coup, her 2012 book, and newspaper columns she wrote in 1980,” CPJ said.

Duman was charged with membership of a 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 Zaman newspaper linked to the Gülen group, are in prison on terror-related charges.

A Turkish court in December sentenced journalist Ece Sevim Öztürk to more than three years in prison, but ordered her released under a travel ban pending her appeal. Öztürk was also charged with links to Gülen movement, with prosecutors presenting a documentary she produced, her Twitter posts, and statements during a TV debate as evidence. 

The remaining nine jailed women 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 of Dicle News Agency (DIHA), is sentenced to four years on charges of PKK propaganda over material published on social media.

Isminaz 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 Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspaper, shut down by government decree in July 2018, are detained on charges of being members of a terrorist organisation.

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 being a member of a terrorist organisation.

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