Much is being reported worldwide about the reelection Sunday of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and its impact on relations between Turkey and the U.S., Russia, China, and other world powers.
But virtually nothing is written about the fate of those who have perhaps suffered the most under the strongman president: the estimated 40-plus journalists imprisoned in Turkey as of December 2022 for work-related offenses against the state.
According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, the 40 jailed journalists in Turkey at the end of 2022 is a big increase over the 18 who were in prison in '21.
Two months before CPJ announced that figure, parliament enacted a new law that would see those accused of spreading what the government considers "disinformation" to be jailed for up to three years.
Earlier this month, the Mezopotamya News Agency reported that since June of last year, 34 journalists in 21 counties have been rounded up by the Ankara Chief Public Defender's Office as part of an investigation into their ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Overall, CPJ concluded, Turkey is now the fourth-most prolific jailer of journalists in the world — behind Iran, China, and Myanmar.
Erdogan has shown no inclination to pardoning any journalists. In April 2020, as Turkey was wracked with COVID-19, the president announced that roughly 90,000 inmates of the nation's prisons would be released to stop the spread of the virus.
Among those coming out from behind bars are gangsters, drug dealers, and men convicted of violence against women. Not one of the released inmates was a journalist.
The law dealing with prison release at the time included language that crimes committed against the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) — roughly Erdogan's FBI — are not eligible for sentence reduction.
"Gang members, looters, thieves, those giving bribes, pushing women to death, beaters, drug dealers, and many other criminals will be released," opposition Member of Parliament Utku Cakirozer told Turkey's Duvar English publication, "but prisoners of thought won't."
Two years later, it is highly unlikely a reelected Erdogan has changed his mind about releasing "prisoners of thought."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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