Today is May 3rd, World Press Freedom Day… As the world’s largest journalist prison, Turkey enters May 3rd under dark again. Turkey was ranked 157th among 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index, launched annually by Reporters Without Borders. Turkey is also placed among the “Countries with not free press” in the 2019 Report of Freedom House.
Recorded as the country with the most number of journalists in prison in the world, there are 142 journalists in Turkish prisons, according to data by Turkish Journalists Association. A majority of those journalists are serving sentences due to three main charges: “Organizing coup,” “terrorist organization membership” and “making terrorist organization propaganda.”
According to data by BiaNet, 16 of 204 journalists standing trial in the first three months of 2019 were sentenced to more than 50 years of imprisonment in total. On the other hand, 16 journalists became suspects/defendants of the charge of “insulting Erdoğan” within three months. 17 new lawsuits and 2 new investigations were opened against the journalists in April; 10 journalists with finalised verdicts against them received imprisonment sentences for a total of 14 years and seven months.
Wikipedia is under censorship for two years in Turkey; with thousands of articles banned to access every year and “likes” on the social media becoming reasons for imprisonment sentences.
According to the report prepared by the International Press Institute, approximately 95 percent of the media are under government influence. 40 journalists were left unemployed only in the first three months of 2019. The total number of unemployed journalists exceeds ten thousand.