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Javier Monjas - 22/02/2013 - 05:55 PM   GMT+01:00

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Reporter rights groups accuse Ankara of jailing more journalists than any other country in the world last year.

As of August 1, 2012, some 76 Turkish journalists were in jail, and at least 61 of those were imprisoned as a direct result of their work, CPJ stated. Many of the arrested reporters were Kurdish citizens of the state, or were affiliated with or working on contentious issues, including attempted overthrows of the government, Kurdish and Armenian rights, and more.

The Turkish government did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.

Responding to CPJ's findings, however, the Turkish ambassador to the United States, Namik Tan, stated: "A great majority of the persons referred to as 'journalists in prison' have been charged with serious crimes - such as being a member of, or supporting an illegal or armed terrorist organisation - that concern the security and integrity of our country, and that are not related to their work as journalists or members of media organisations."

Turkish Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin also responded to the CPJ allegations, calling them "exaggerated" and part of an attempt to use criticism of press freedom in Turkey as a political tool against the government.

"We, as the government, would not want any single person, whether a journalist or not, to be victimised because of their thoughts or expressions," Ergin wrote. "Turkey is making an effort to strike the right balance between preventing the praising of violence and terrorist propaganda, and the need to expand freedom of speech."

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