The browser or device you are using is out of date. It has known security flaws and a limited feature set. You will not see all the features of some websites. Please update your browser. A list of the most popular browsers can be found below.
Turkey again jails most journalists, annual index finds
In annual report, the Committee to Protect Journalists said it was the 2nd worst year on record for jailed journalists
December 18, 20131:51PM ET
For the second consecutive year, Turkey jailed more journalists than any other country, with Iran and China ranking close behind in an annual report released Wednesday by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
"Jailing journalists for their work is the hallmark of an intolerant, repressive society," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said.
The CPJ found 211 journalists around the world were behind bars as a result of their work in a snapshot survey taken on Dec. 1. The report noted the figure does not include many journalists who were imprisoned and released throughout the year. The CPJ said this was the second highest number of journalists jailed in its survey on record, topped only by the 232 imprisoned in 2012.
The report also does not reflect the level of national press freedom, since qualitative indicators such as journalists’ self-censorship, government intimidation, surveillance and legal protection are not included in the report. In that sense, Reporters Without Borders’ 2013 World Press Freedom Index provides a more wide-ranging picture of the working conditions of journalists throughout the year.
In the CPJ study, Iran and China closely followed Turkey on the list of the top 10 worst jailers of journalists. The other offenders include Eritrea, Vietnam, Syria, Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Egypt and Uzbekistan. Online journalists accounted for about half of the prisoners at 106, while roughly one-third were freelancers.
The number of journalist incarcerations in Turkey caught the attention of the researchers for a second year in a row.
"It is disturbing to see the number of jailed journalists rise in countries like Vietnam and Egypt," Simon said. "But it is frankly shocking that Turkey would be the world's worst jailer of journalists for the second year in a row."
Despite being a democracy and a key NATO ally of the United States, a number of factors contribute to Turkey's ranking as the leading jailer of journalists. The country has broad legislation to fight terrorism that critics say allows it to prosecute government critics as terrorists.
Until the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan began peace talks in recent years, Turkey waged a multi-decade conflict with armed rebels fighting for Kurdish autonomy that claimed thousands of lives. The Turkish government accuses many of the imprisoned journalists of being members of the rebel group, which is considered a terrorist group by Western allies.
Critics, including CPJ, say Turkey has not distinguished between news coverage of the rebels and support of them.
Similarly, many other journalists have been jailed in sweeping prosecutions in recent years involving allegations of conspiracies against the government by Erdogan's secularist adversaries.
CPJ has argued that the prosecution of Turkish journalists is a form of government pressure on the media, in a country with an increasingly authoritarian bent. But this year's report notes a slight decline in the number of jailed journalists from 49 to 40, as some were freed as they awaited trial and others were released on time served after long pre-trial detentions.
Iran, China, Syria, Americas
The CPJ said the number of jailed journalists in Iran fell to 35 from 45. It said some sentences expired and the government kept up its policy of releasing some prisoners on furlough. Those who are released do not know when or if they will be summoned back to jail, the CPJ said.
In China, 32 reporters, editors, and bloggers were imprisoned, the same number as in 2012.
Egypt was holding five journalists in jail compared with none in 2012. The CPJ noted that following President Mohamed Morsi's ouster in July, dozens of local and international journalists were detained, but most were later freed.
Bashar al-Assad's government in Syria imprisoned 11 journalists in 2013, down from 15 last year. The report noted, however, that the figure does not include dozens of reporters who have been abducted and are believed to be held by armed opposition groups. As of late 2013, about 30 journalists were missing in Syria, the CPJ said.
Only one journalist was behind bars in the Americas as a direct result of their work.
Roger Shuler, an independent blogger who writes about alleged Republican corruption in Alabama, was being held on contempt of court for refusing to comply with an injunction regarding content ruled defamatory, the CPJ said.
In recent years, journalist jailings in the Americas have become increasingly rare, with one Cuban documented in prison in 2012 and none throughout the region in 2011.