While no oneincluding the governmentrefutes the fact that journalists are imprisoned in Turkey on free expression charges, there is little consensus on the exact number. According to the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), as of March 1998 there were twenty-nine journalists in jail on free expression charges.114 Another thirteen journalists, according to the group, were imprisoned but their confinement could not be confirmed as being directly related to their work.115 On May 6, 1998, Reporters San Frontieres (RSF) called for the immediate release of two journalists imprisoned in Turkey.116 In May 1997, RSF had announced that there were eight journalists in prison on free expression charges, but most of these were released after a limited August 1997 amnesty for imprisoned journalists.117 At that time, the RSF General Secretariat and the RSF Istanbul Bureau stated that they could not establish whether seventy-seven other imprisoned press people (bas1n çal1san) were imprisoned because of press crimes.118 They promised, however, to investigate the issue. The Press Council of Turkey, which in the past had worked with CPJ, announced that there were eleven journalists in jail in Turkey as of March 31, 1998.119 For its part, The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey lists sixty imprisoned journalists as of March 1998.120
It is difficult to arrive at a definitive number accepted by all because the overwhelming majority of journalists imprisoned in Turkey are ostensibly convicted not on press charges, but under either Article 168 of the penal code (membership in an armed group) or Article 169 (aiding an armed group).Theyoverwhelmingly write for publications sympathetic to armed groups. 121 Sometimes, these newspapers or magazines glorify acts of violence committed by the armed group with which the publication sympathizes.
Human Rights Watch believes that the mere act of working at a publication that sympathizes with an armed group is neither proof of membership in that group nor is it illegal in and of itself unless the individual in question writes articles openly calling for acts of violence and there is reason to believe that violence will result. Such utterances may not be protected speech under restrictions allowed under Article 10.2 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, to which Turkey is a party.122 Human Rights Watch is also concerned that individuals who work for such publications face serious police abuse and torture during interrogation and may not receive due process during their trials.