It is unfortunate that the author of the comment piece “Why protect rights of journalists?”, published in your paper on September 25, did not contact the CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists) prior to publication.
We would have been able to explain our methodology to Turkmen Terzi and provide him with more up-to-date statistics than the 2012 figures he cited for the number of journalists jailed in Turkey for their journalism.
Let me do so now.
It is a mistake to think that when the committee publishes its census of journalists in jail on December 1 every year, it deliberately excludes some jailed journalists.
Our job - and methodology - is to determine whether a journalist has been jailed in relation to their journalism.
Before publishing our annual report, we collect all the data we can on every case, working with a journalist’s lawyers, colleagues, press organisations, local and international press freedom advocates, relatives and others.
If there is insufficient data to determine whether a journalist is in jail for their work, we exclude that case. CPJ applies its methodology globally, without regard to a country or case.
Some organisations’ statistics may differ because they use a different methodology to CPJ, such as including journalists whose imprisonment is unconnected to their journalism, media activists or netizens, or media outlet staff such as distribution agents, and clerical or technical workers.
When CPJ conducted its most recent prison census in December last year, at least 73 journalists were jailed in relation to their work in Turkey.
We are currently in the process of investigating cases for this year’s prison census, due to be published in December. And we are ready to consider additional cases or information brought to our attention.
Turkey had been an area of concern for CPJ even before the attempted coup in 2016. We had missions to the country and met with government officials, as well as journalists.
The CPJ has published daily and weekly reports about attacks on the press and media freedom in Turkey, including a regularly-published Turkey Crackdown Chronicle.
The committee has delivered expert testimony and briefings to government officials in Washington and Europe, and we have featured Turkish journalists in both last year’s and this year’s Free the Press campaigns - a global advocacy effort to raise awareness of the plight of jailed journalists. In addition, CPJ has sent formal requests to the Turkish government to permit us to visit imprisoned journalists.
The situation related to media freedom and journalists’ safety remains dire in Turkey, the world’s leading jailer of journalists.
We continue defending Turkish journalists, advocating for their right to do the important work they do without fear of reprisal.
Gulnoza Said is Europe and Central Asia research associate for the CPJ, based in New York. Web address: https://cpj.org/europe/