World Association of News Publishers

Protest Campaign - Turkey, 20 February 2013

Protest Campaign - Turkey, 20 February 2013

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Secretary John Kerry,
Secretary of State of the United States of America,
Washington D.C.


Thursday, 21st February 2013


Dear Mr. Secretary,

We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, to respectfully call on you to raise the serious situation facing Turkish journalists with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. We understand you plan to meet with the Prime Minister on a visit to the country scheduled for February.

Mr. Secretary, Turkey’s position as the world’s largest jailer of journalists is simply unacceptable. A country so often hailed as the democratic example for the aspirations of an entire region, one with such a history-rich and high caliber press, cannot condone the imprisonment of journalists.

We urge you to encourage Prime Minister Erdoğan to speed up promised reform measures that would improve press freedom in Turkey.

Those disproportionally targeted are Kurdish journalists reporting on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and media professionals implicated in the supposed ‘Ergenekon Conspiracy’ to overthrow the government.

In many cases, little or no evidence has emerged proving the guilt of these journalists. Often, their own published writing, notes and telephone conversations are used against them.

Turkey’s practice of jailing members of the press, often for lengthy periods, even before they have faced trial, has drawn widespread condemnation from media watchdogs and rights groups worldwide.

Turkey denies jailing journalists and claims instead they are ‘terrorists’, however the international community has firmly rejected this. Our colleagues at New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists published an excellent report in October 2012 that provides solid background for your information:

Turkey’s restrictive legal environment, epitomised by sweeping national security and anti-terrorism legislation, has had a chilling effect on the media. Certain subjects have become officially taboo, and self-censorship risks silencing critical voices.

While promises of reform are welcome, and recent releases a positive step, we urge you to convey to the Prime Minister our strong belief that more should be done to reverse the criminalisation of journalists.

We therefore urge you to use this historic first trip to Turkey, and the symbolism it will carry in a region burdened by challenges and opportunities alike, to raise the issue of press freedom with Prime Minister Erdoğan and to seek the freedom of all journalists imprisoned for their writing as a matter of urgency. 

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience,


Yours sincerely,


Jacob Mathew
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers


Erik Bjerager
World Editors Forum


WAN-IFRA is the global organisation for the world’s newspapers and news publishers, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organisation groups 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2013-02-20 20:24

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In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...