Turkish PM calls press freedom report 'a comedy'

Turkey's PM disputes figures of journalists imprisoned in Turkey

Turkey's PM disputes figures of journalists imprisoned in Turkey

ANKARA - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has challenged a report critical of press freedom in Turkey, saying it used incorrect figures about the number of imprisoned journalists in the country.

Erdogan said the report had claimed that more than 40 journalists had been jailed, despite the fact there were actually only 18 journalists behind bars.

Speaking at the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's parliamentary group meeting Tuesday, Erdogan said: "The report by the U.S.-based advocacy organization Freedom House -- claiming Turkey suffered a 'significant decline' in press freedom -- is nothing but a comedy, and not an objective report."

He said: "There are only 18 imprisoned journalists [in jail], while five of them hold press cards and all of them are convicted of different criminal offenses -- not because they are journalists.

"These 18 persons were sentenced to prison for the offenses of possessing dangerous materials, deprivation of liberty, deliberate injury, recruiting terrorists, murdering a police officer, bombing a helicopter, forgery of documents and bank robbery."

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