The Daily Beast questioned if “the New York–based Committee to Protect Journalists failed to stand up for dozens of imprisoned journalists in Turkey” by understating the number of journalists imprisoned in Turkey and other countries.
According to the CPJ’s annual report published Dec. 8, there are only eight journalists in jail in Turkey, the Daily Beast explained. That report prompted ” Turkey’s Minister of Justice Sadullah Ergin to cite this number as justification that ‘there is no press freedom issue in Turkey.'” The Daily Beast instead argues that there are ” more than 70 journalists sitting in prison on various charges.” According to the Daily Beast, the European Federation of Journalists also reports that estimate.
According to the Daily Beast, CPJ’s executive director, Joel Simon, explained the low number because “in only eight cases are we confident that the journalists were jailed because of their professional activity.” He noted in a Dec. 23 blogpost that CPJ uses “an expansive and evolving definition of what constitutes journalism.”
And the CPJ’s Mohamed Abdel Dayem explained the group’s methods in a Dec. 8 blogpost. “In conducting our research, we traveled to Turkey on a fact-finding mission, interviewed journalists and press freedom defenders, and enlisted the help of a Turkish-speaking researcher.” He noted that the group doesn’t count journalists who aren’t imprisoned for their work and did comment that other lists include “as many as 64” journalists imprisoned in Turkey. He also added that Rpeorters without Borders reports seven jailed Turkish journalists.
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Simon added in his Dec. 23 blogpost that “for many Turkish journalists and media organizations, our tally is too low.” He cited other group’s research and noted that CPJ “used these lists as the starting point for our own research, systematically reviewing each case,” along with a Turkish-based researcher. Simon explained that in some cases, jailed Turkish people identified as journalists by other groups didn’t have “a single bylined story,” according to CPJ’s research. “This does not mean that the person wasn’t a journalist arrested for his or her work; only that we could not confirm this fact.”
An article by the Freedom for Journalists Platform of Turkey published on Monthly Review also claimed that the Turkey journalist arrest count is incorrect. The group also wrote: “We, as the Freedom for Journalists Platform of Turkey, condemn your report.”
iMediaEthics has written to the European Federation of Journalists and the Committee to Protect Journalists for comment and will update with any response.