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According to a recent report by the Committee to Protect Journalists, Turkey faces a "press freedom crisis." Using a combination of ambiguous and antiquated laws to silence media critical of the government in Ankara, journalists are imprisoned as terrorists, and their work dismissed as enemy propaganda. Those fortunate enough to avoid incarceration still face the threat of legal repercussions for publishing dissenting opinions or critical analysis.

Consequently, an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship prevails among Turkey's journalists. In one prominent case, authorities detained Soner Yalçin, owner of the critical Oda TV, and several of his colleagues. Nearly two years later, he continues to sit in an isolated cell while the legal proceedings drag on without end.

Call for the release of Turkey's imprisoned journalists and new laws that codify the principles of a free press, putting an end to this de facto brand of state censorship.

Sign Here

Dear Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan:

The world watched as your government imprisoned Soner Yalçin and several of his colleagues in February 2011, adding to the growing list of incarcerated journalists in Turkey's prisons. As a regional model for democracy, your government should neither condone nor facilitate the suppression of free expression. The time has come to reverse course and protect journalists, even those who disagree with your policies.

The Committee to Protect Journalist's (CPJ) recent report paints a dire picture, labeling the situation in Turkey as a "press freedom crisis." Among the most unnerving statistics:

  • Turkish prisons hold 76 journalists, at least 61 detained in direct relation to their work.
  • More than three-quarters have been held prior to any conviction.
  • Turkey imprisons more journalists than the repressive regimes of Iran and China.
  • The only regime to do worse? Turkey (in 1996 when authorities detained 78 journalists).

Other independent, non-governmental organizations observe a similar trend. In a ranking of press freedom published each year by Reporters Sans Frontiers, Turkey dropped ten places to number 148 due to "a wave of arrests of journalists that was without precedent since the military dictatorship." Turkey also lost points according to Freedom House's annual assessment, citing a "continued crack down on unfavorable press coverage."

Turkey faces legitimate threats to law and order, but this must not be used as a pretext for censorship. It is a false dichotomy that suggests society must trade civil liberties for physical security. Accede to the wishes of your constituents, of the international community, and of a free and open society:

  • Publicly promote a free press as essential to a democratic Turkey and cease the use of "defamation complaints" to vilify critical journalists.
  • Reform archaic and ambiguous laws, particularly Articles 301 and 216 of the penal code as well as the Law on the Fight against Terrorism, used to depict dissent as a threat to national security.
  • Loosen restrictions imposed on Internet by Law 5651, providing access and oversight and in line with the standards of the international community.

And finally, Prime Minister, free your imprisoned journalists, those such as Mr. Yalçin, who have been detained for prolonged periods while awaiting trial in a hostile courtroom based on only the most tenuous of evidence.

Petition Signatures

Jan 16, 2018 Shabnam Shafiq I call for the release of Turkey's imprisoned journalists and new laws that codify the principles of a free press, putting an end to this de facto brand of state censorship. Thankyou.
Jan 11, 2018 Jen Valentino
Jan 10, 2018 Cindy Stein
Jan 10, 2018 Ken Stein
Jan 5, 2018 Beverly Folkes
Dec 10, 2017 Michalla Courtorielle
Dec 10, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Dec 9, 2017 carlos diaz
Dec 9, 2017 Barry Katz Locking up journalists is not going to solve the serious issues of the fascist Turkey government. You have gone backwards.
Dec 9, 2017 Valerie Campbell
Dec 5, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Dec 4, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Nov 21, 2017 Thao Vu
Nov 20, 2017 Jodi Abel
Nov 20, 2017 Stacey Govito
Nov 15, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Nov 11, 2017 Adelina Jaudal
Nov 10, 2017 Berry Berkel
Nov 6, 2017 Russell Chiappa
Nov 6, 2017 Heinz-Helmut Umbreit
Oct 28, 2017 Deborah Moore
Oct 25, 2017 Kimberly Wallace
Oct 12, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Oct 9, 2017 Liz Pope
Oct 8, 2017 Kim Hanke
Sep 30, 2017 Charlotte Humphries
Sep 26, 2017 Mitch Sanborg True strength embraces truth
Sep 10, 2017 Luis Chelotti
Sep 8, 2017 Richard Bosboom
Sep 4, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Aug 28, 2017 Ana Sierra
Aug 27, 2017 Devon Kerbow
Aug 27, 2017 Debbie Meadows
Aug 27, 2017 Sue Ellen Lupien
Aug 25, 2017 Margo Salone
Aug 24, 2017 Wendy Kasprzyk
Aug 23, 2017 Dìane van Weelie
Aug 23, 2017 Gil Hackel
Aug 9, 2017 Thomas Windberg
Aug 9, 2017 Adam Fransella
Aug 9, 2017 Brian Gottejman
Aug 8, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Aug 7, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Aug 5, 2017 Brian Reynolds
Aug 5, 2017 Elaine Heathcoat
Aug 5, 2017 Susan Armistead, M.D.
Jul 25, 2017 Eva Sandhammar
Jul 25, 2017 Gill Thomas
Jul 23, 2017 refhan irtem
Jul 23, 2017 (Name not displayed)

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