Media freedom watchdogs in 'unprecedented' visit to Turkey; spotlight journalist emergency

Representatives of international media watchdogs say that media freedom has deteriorated sharply in Turkey, calling it an emergency for journalists.

The eight organizations say they are undertaking an "emergency press freedom mission" as the country prepares for a parliamentary election on Nov. 1. In an indication of their concern, they call the visit "unprecedented." The groups include the Vienna-based International Press Institute and the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

The groups cite a spate of cases in which prosecutors have charged journalists with anti-terrorism laws and laws against insulting the president. They also spotlighted recent violence and threats against journalists and news organizations.

"We decided to conduct a visit to Turkey at this time because of our extreme concern," IPI's director of advocacy, Steven Ellis said in Istanbul.