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Erdoğan’s senior advisor says there are no journalists in jail in Turkey

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Gülnur Aybet, a senior advisor to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has claimed Turkey has not convicted anyone for what they have written or the work they have done as journalists, BBC reported.

Aybet spoke to Stephen Sackur on BBC’s “HARDtalk,” and the interview was aired on Monday.

To a question about reports from international journalism organizations showing Turkey as the world leader in imprisoning journalists, Aybet said: “When a person is arrested in Turkey, they have to fill out a form that includes details of their profession. There are people who have written in that form that their profession is ‘journalist,’ but they are not necessarily journalists,” she said.

“If journalists are in prison, then they have been convicted of crimes not related to their profession,” she added.

Aybet’s remarks came shortly before the release of a report by Reporters without Borders (RSF) on Tuesday, according to which Turkey continues to be the world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists.

The report, titled “Worldwide round-up of journalists killed, detained, held hostage, or missing in 2018,” includes comprehensive coverage of all violations against journalists across the globe. The section on Turkey directs attention to the “despotic” nature of the regime while stating that in 2018 more than 80 journalists were given long prison sentences or fines on charges such as “terrorist propaganda,” “denigrating Turkish identity” and “insulting the head of state.”

Turkey has been pursuing a crackdown on the media in the aftermath of a July 15, 2016 coup attempt. Almost all media workers who are detained are accused of terrorism without credible evidence.

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