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While no one—including the government—refutes 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.

114 Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1997, March 1998, p. 53. 115 Attacks on the Press 1997, p. 72. 116 The Reporters San Frontieres Newsletter, May 1998, No. 27, p. 5. 117 RSF, Türkiye Kay1p Düsler (Turkey: Lost Hopes), May 1997. The RSF representative in Turkey is Nadire Mater, who also serves as the Turkey bureau chief for the IPS news service. The drop in the RSF figure is the result of the August 1997 law suspending sentences for responsible editors. 118 Ibid. 119 "Press Council Says 11 Journalists Behind Bars,” Reuters, March 31, 1998. Nail Güreli, the head of the Press Council, stated that, “We would like to underline our view that there is nothing to boast about in Turkey having 11 journalists in jail...But the truth is that Turkey is not the country with the highest number of journalists in prison.” 120 Türkiye’de Bas1n Özgürlü_ü, pp. 52-58. 121 Kurtulus and Mücadele, for example, have an editorial policy sympathetic to Dev-Sol, an armed urban group that has carried out assassinations of retired army officers, police, and former government members. At1l1m is believed sympathetic to the far-left Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP), which has conducted acts of violence. Al1nteri is regarded as sympathetic to the Turkish Revolutionary Communist Union (T_KB), an urban guerilla group. Özgür Halk sympathizes with the PKK. All these groups are outlawed in Turkey. See Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1997, pp. 53-68. 122 Article 10.1 grants the right of freedom of expression, while Article 10.2 outlines cases where the state may legally restrict that right. While the European Court of Human Rights has largely ruled against Turkey in cases involving torture and forced village evacuations, it recently ruled in its favor in a case concerning Article 10. The court ruled that Turkey had violated the rights of Mehdi Zana, the former mayor of Diyarbak1r and a Kurdish political activist, regarding the right to a fair trial and length of detention, but it rejected Zana’s allegation that his right to speech had been violated. Mr. Zana had made statements supporting the armed struggle of the PKK. See European Court of Human Rights, Case of Zana v. Turkey, No. 69/1996/688/880, Judgement, Strasbourg, November 25, 1997 and “Zana’ya ret, Türkiye Ceza,” (“Rejection for Zana, Punishment for Turkey”), Cumhuriyet Hafta, November 28, 1997, p. 16. For further discussion of the European Court of Human Rights interpretation of restrictions of Article 10, see section, “INTERNATIONAL LEGAL OBLIGATIONS.”

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