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Restrictions on freedom of expression in Turkey have given the European Commission "cause for concern", according to a progress report released today.

In the annual report, produced to assess progress in European Union membership candidate and potential candidate countries, the commission claims a "high number" of violations of freedom of expression in Turkey are still being submitted to the European Court of Human Rights.

"Turkish law does not sufficiently guarantee freedom of expression in line with the ECHR and the ECHR case law," the report states.

"The high number of cases initiated against journalists and the frequent website bans are a cause for concern. Undue political pressures on the media and legal uncertainties affect the exercise of freedom of the press in practice."

"Insults against the Turkish nation are still criminalised under Article 301 of the TCC (Turkish Criminal Code). Other provisions of the TCC, the Anti-Terror Law and the Press Law are also used to restrict freedom of expression," the report adds.

The Commission report also raises concerns over the high number of cases initiated against Turkish journalists who have reported on the Ergenekon case, which relates to an alleged plot to overthrow the government.

"They face prosecutions and trials for violating the principle of confidentiality of an ongoing judicial process. This could result in self-censorship," the report warns.

According to Reporters Without Border's press freedom indexes, Turkey, which began accession negotiations with the EU in 2005, this year fell from a ranking of 122 in 2009 to 138, out of 178 countries.

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