According to figures from The Solidarity Platform of Imprisoned Journalists (TGDP), there are 43 journalists in prison as of the end of 2010. These 43 journalists, 10 of which are editor-in-chiefs, will greet the New Year in prison. TGDP Spokesperson Necati Abay called on the government to abolish the Counterterrorism Law.
Some Turkish laws, in particular the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and the Counterterrorism Law, serve as the basis for legal actions taken against journalists for writing stories and reports. Articles on Ergenekon topped the list of reasons used to prosecute journalists in 2010. There are currently 5,000 investigations underway on several journalists who wrote about the issue. A portion of these investigations have led to trials. Most journalists are taken to court based on Article 285 of the TCK, or “the breach of privacy,” and Article 288, or “attempt to influence a fair trial.”
Aside from being subject to investigation and fines, many journalists have received prison sentences for stories. There are a total of 43 journalists in prison in Turkey as of the end of 2010. Of these journalists, 10 are editor-in-chiefs. The remaining 33 are reporters, editors and other employees from editorial departments. Among the editor-in-chiefs and managing directors in prison are Gün TV Executive Coordinator Ahmet Birsin, İşçi-Köylü daily owner and Editor-in-Chief Barış Açıkel, Odak Dergisi owner and Editor-in-Chief Erol Zavar, Renge Heviya Jine (The Color of Woman’s Hope) magazine Editor-in-Chief Halit Güdenoğlu, Atılım daily owner and Editor-in-Chief Hatice Duman, Atılım Executive Editor İbrahim Çiçek, Radyo Dünya Editor-in-Chief Kenan Karavil, Kamu Emekçileri Cephesi (Public Laborers Front) weekly Editor-in-Chief Musa Kurt and Atılım daily Executive Coordinator Sedat Şenoğlu.
Noting that the situation with journalist is very serious Abay said new measures need to be taken urgently in 2011 for the release of journalists. “Journalist and writers under arrest in Turkey face trial in specially authorized Heavy Penal Courts rather than the old State Security Courts [DGMs] for violating the … law known as the Counterterrorism Law,” said Abay, recommending that the law be revoked and specially authorized heavy penal courts be shut down.
Noting that they have communicated their demands to the government in the past, Abay added that they will continue to push for action in the new year as well. He also said the Counterterrorism Law led to serious violations of freedom of press and freedom of thought and expression, adding: “They have to openly say either we don’t want freedom of expression and thought or we are going to change this law. This is the only way to solve this problem.”