Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan AFP/File

A non-profit organization dedicated to defending the freedom of information declared Turkey on Wednesday to be the “world’s biggest prison for journalists,” the daily Hurriyet newspaper reported.

“With a total of 72 media personnel currently detained, of whom at least 42 journalists and four media assistants are being held in connection with their media work, Turkey is now the world’s biggest prison for journalists – a sad paradox for a country that portrays itself a regional democratic model,” the organization, Reporters Without Borders, said in its annual roundup.

A recent amendment package approved last July has led to the conditional release of 15 journalists, reported the Hurriyet, but their cases have only been suspended.

“These legislative reforms will have to be accompanied by changes in judicial practices in line with the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, meaning much less use of preventive detention, respect for the right to information on subjects of public interest, protection for journalists’ sources and a more independent and transparent judicial system,” Reporters Without Borders said.

The organization urged the Turkish judicial system “to respect international conventions ratified by Turkey that stipulate that freedom of expression may be limited in such circumstances only when it explicitly incites hatred or violence.” It urged Turkey’s courts to immediately release all journalists who have been imprisoned in connection with their work.

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