Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey leads the world in jailing reporters and is engaged in “one of the biggest crackdowns on press freedom in recent history,” the Committee to Protect Journalists said.
The Turkish government has criminalized basic news- gathering activities, intimidated the press into self-censorship and imprisoned more journalists than China and Iran combined, the New York-based group, also known as CPJ, said in a 53-page report on Turkey released today.
“Erdogan has publicly deprecated journalists, urged media outlets to discipline or fire critical staff members, and filed numerous high-profile defamation lawsuits,” the report said. “Turkey’s press freedom situation has reached a crisis point.”
While Erdogan’s government started official membership talks with the European Union in 2005 and boasts of expanding democracy in the nation of 75 million, the report underlines concern about intolerance of criticism after 10 years in power. About 30 percent of Turkey’s imprisoned journalists are accused of plots to overthrow the government, according to CPJ. The rest are mostly reporters from Turkey’s Kurdish minority who are accused of aiding and abetting terrorism, it said.
There were 76 journalists imprisoned in Turkey as of Aug. 1, at least 61 of whom were being held in direct relation to their work, CPJ said. That’s the highest figure globally in the last ten years, it said.