Press freedom is declining in Turkey since Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became president in August 2014. Hundreds of journalists were fired, detained or under investigation and many news agencies were closed in the past year.
“In 2015, 774 journalists were fired, 484 legal actions were taken by judicial authorities, 200 press members and 7 media companies were subjected to an investigation, 156 journalists were detained, court cases were opened against 238 journalists and at least 32 journalists are currently under arrest.”
said main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy chair Sezgin Tanrıkulu, on 11 January.
Ranked 149 out of 180, on the 2015 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders, Turkey appears to be one of the least free countries in the world. The country was also categorized as “not free” by the Freedom House’s annual Freedom of the Press report.
According to the Freedom House,
“The government enacted new laws that expanded both the state’s power to block websites and the surveillance capability of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT). Journalists faced unprecedented legal obstacles as the courts restricted reporting on corruption and national security issues. The authorities also continued to aggressively use the penal code, criminal defamation laws, and the antiterrorism law to crack down on journalists and media outlets.”
In November 2014, Cumhuriyet Newspaper, was awarded the 2015 Reporters Without Borders Prize for its “independent and courageous journalism.” Shortly afterwards, its editor-in-chief, Can Dündar, was arrested for publishing footage showing the State Intelligence MİT delivering weapons to Syrian Islamist fighters.
Also, days before the Turkish national elections in November 2015, the police conducted raids on buildings and offices of newspapers. Koza Ipek Holding media and its 22 owned companies were seized by the authorities citing an investigation into alleged financial irregularities. Journalists believe the crackdown of the media is due to critical comments made against president Erdoğan and its government. “It’s the biggest crackdown on press in Turkish history,” said Tarık Toros, the editor-in-chief of the television station Bugün, taken off by the authorities.
Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament expressed his concern for the freedom of the press in Turkey, at the time of the events.
Deeply concerned abt seizure of Koza Ipek group right ahead of 1/11 elections in #Turkey. Free media a cornerstone of vibrant democracies
— EP President (@EP_President) October 27, 2015