161 Turkish media workers welcome 2020 behind bars

A total of 161 journalists entered the new year in Turkey’s prisons, an online platform reporting on imprisoned journalists on Tuesday reported.

According to a report drafted by Jailed Journos, there are 89 reporters, editors, and columnists among a total of 161 press members currently behind bars in Turkey.

The platform listed the names of media workers currently in prison in the report after speaking to their relatives and co-workers and making a detailed search on several social media platforms.

The list released on Monday includes the names, companies, and positions of each journalist as well as the date of their arrest and the prison in which they are currently being held.

Among the names are two local newspaper bosses, Alaaddin Akkasoglu and Alaaddin Kaya. Akkasoglu owns the Kutahya-based Akis daily and Karsi online newspaper, while Kaya, the former grant holder of Zaman daily, owns the Ankara-based Belde newspaper.

Once a high-circulation daily before it was seized by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in March 2016, Zaman was shut down by Ankara two months after it was taken over by state-appointed trustees for being linked to Gulen movement.

The Turkish government accuses the faith-based movement, led by the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, of masterminding a failed coup attempt that targeted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP government on July 15, 2016.

Gulen and his followers, who are also blamed by the AKP for being terrorists, deny any accusations linked to 2016’s coup or any terror incidents.

The list of the imprisoned media workers also has the names of nine female journalists, including reporters Aysenur Parildak, Hanim Busra Erdal, and Selma Tatli from Zaman.

It further includes Atilim daily’s Editor-in-Chief Hatice Duman, Jinha news editors Ozlem Seyhan and Melike Aydin, the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya Agency (MA) reporters Ruken Demir and Sadiye Eser and Burc FM radio host Yasemin Yalcin Aktosun.

The report also states that some of the journalists currently behind bars in Turkey are over 60 years old, adding that “the government wants them, in a way, to die in prison.”

Among those are a veteran journalist and author Ahmet Altan, Hidayet Karaca – chairman of the now-closed Samanyolu TV, Zaman columnist Mumtazer Turkone and Unal Tanik, the owner and editor-in-chief of the now-banned Rota Haber news portal.

According to the Jailed Journos report, more than 300 journalists were jailed, and as many more were prosecuted during the two-year state of emergency that was declared in Turkey in the aftermath of 2016’s abortive putsch.

The platform also stressed that restrictions imposed by the governing AKP on freedom of speech and press in Turkey continues unabated.

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