NEWS
12/18/2013 07:23 EST | Updated 02/17/2014 05:59 EST

Turkey is world leader in jailing journalists for 2nd year

Turkey jailed more journalists than any other country in 2013, the second year in a row that the NATO member has outpaced China and Iran, a new prison census says.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says Turkey had 40 journalists in prison as of Dec. 1, accounting for almost 20 per cent of all reporters jailed worldwide.

"As a NATO member and a regional leader, Turkey should not belong in the list of top press jailers," the non-profit's Nina Ognianova wrote in an analysis. "But from the failure to reform its legislation in a meaningful way to the crackdown on its journalists in the aftermath of the Gezi Park protests, Turkey has grown increasingly repressive despite the modest decline in the number of media workers behind bars."

Two CBC News reporters were among the journalists who had a brush with the Turkish prison system this year, though their stay was brief. 

In June, Sasa Petricic and Derek Stoffel were picked up by police while covering ongoing anti-government protests in Istanbul's Taksim Square. The pair were in a holding cell for several hours, then released thanks in part to some behind-the-scenes work by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Turkish ambassador to Canada Tuncy Babali.

The report only counts people currently imprisoned, so Petricic and Stoffel are not included in those numbers.

2nd worst year for journalism arrests

In all, 211 journalists are jailed in 30 countries. 

After Turkey, the highest number of imprisonments are in:

- Iran (35)

- China (32)

- Eritrea (22)

- Vietnam (18)

- Syria (12)

The Committee to Protect Journalists said 2013 marks the second-highest number of journalists jailed worldwide since numbers have been tracked, behind 2012, when 232 journalists were imprisoned.

The majority of journalists are jailed on anti-state charges such as subversion or terrorism, well ahead of charges such as defamation or insult. "In 45 cases, no charges were disclosed at all," the committee's editorial director, Elana Beiser, reported.

Journalists who disappear or abducted by criminals or militants are not counted in the report.