Free jailed journalists: Watchdog urges China, Iran, Turkey

Brussels, May 4 (IANS/AKI) A leading press freedom watchdog has urged China, Iran, Turkey and Eritrea — the four countries with the highest number of imprisoned journalists in the world — to release them and end their repression.

In a letter to the countries’ embassies in Brussels, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) president Jim Boumelha voiced concern at the treatment meted out to journalists.

“The only thing they (the journalists) are guilty of is fulfilling their professional duty as journalists to inform the public,” the letters said.

“We urge your government to end this climate of fear and intimidation facing journalists and to release from jail dozens of journalists, writers and trade unionists.”

IFJ affiliates said that at least 24 journalists were imprisoned in Iran on charges of violating national laws, while at least 66 were detained in Turkey for terrorism and other crimes and over 30 in China.

At least 18 journalists have been detained in Eritrea since a ban on independent media in 2001, sources informed AKI.

The IFJ said it was calling on its affiliates to send similar letters to embassies of the same countries in their regions.

The move was timed to mark the UN World Press Freedom Day, which was observed Friday.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists watchdog, there are currently 232 journalists in prisons worldwide.

–IANS/AKI

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