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US urges Turkey to end state of emergency, respect freedom of expression

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The US on Thursday expressed “serious concern” about the widespread arrest and pretrial detention of journalists critical of the Turkish government.

“We urge Turkey to end its state of emergency, respect and ensure freedom of expression, fair trial guarantees, judicial independence and other human rights and fundamental freedoms, and release those journalists and others who are held arbitrarily under emergency rule,” said US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert during a daily press briefing in Washington.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) have shown that 245 journalists and media workers were in jail as of Jan. 24, 2018, most in pretrial detention.

A total of 218 journalists are under arrest pending trial, while 27 have been convicted and are serving out their sentences. Detention warrants are outstanding for 140 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Jailing more than 60,000 people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government has also closed down more than 180 media outlets since a coup attempt in July 2016.

Turkey’s freedom status declined from Partly Free to Not Free in “Freedom in the World 2018: Democracy in Crisis,” the annual report released on Jan. 16 by Freedom House, a US-based independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world.

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