49 journalists in Turkish jails


Turkey has the highest number of journalists in prison, with 49 detained, according to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists. A record 232 journalists are behind bars worldwide.

The organisation carried out a census of journalists behind bars on December 1st, and found anti-state charges such as terrorism, treason and subversion were the most common levelled against journalists in 2012, with at least 132 journalists held around the world on such charges.

The total is 53 more than last year’s and is the highest number since the New York-based group began conducting global surveys in 1990.

Worldwide, 63 journalists are being held without any publicly disclosed charge.

For the first time since 1996, Burma is not among the nations jailing journalists. As part of the country’s transition to civilian rule, the authorities released at least 12 imprisoned journalists in a series of pardons over the past year.

Mehmet Ali Birand, an editor with the Istanbul-based station Kanal D, described the use of anti-state laws against journalists in Turkey as “a national disease” and said the government “does not differentiate between these two major things: freedom of expression and terrorism”.

Iran was the second worst jailer of the press, with 45 journalists behind bars in a sustained crackdown that began after the 2009 presidential election.

China was the third worst jailer last year, and made extensive use of state subversion charges to jail online writers expressing dissident political views and journalists covering ethnic minority groups.

Of the 32 journalists jailed in China, 19 are Tibetans or Uighurs imprisoned for documenting ethnic tensions that have escalated since 2008.