In almost half a century as a reporter, columnist and editor of two national newspapers, Hasan Cemal has seen coups, military rule and government crises shake Turkish democracy. But never, he says, have press freedoms been so curtailed as under President Tayyip Erdogan.
Broadly-defined anti-terrorism laws have been used to prosecute dozens of journalists in recent years. Several more face legal action for referring to a corruption scandal around Erdogan’s inner circle in December 2013.
Some opposition journalists who have avoided court have instead been fired by what they say are pliant media bosses seeking to avoid Erdogan’s ire, or say they have been shut out of official events.
Almost all have made the same mistake: criticizing government policy or offending Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for more than a decade and whose leadership, critics say, has become increasingly authoritarian.
“The free space of journalists is being limited in an unprecedented way because there is an order from a sultan who hates independence,” Cemal told Reuters. “Freedoms, rule of law, the right to live democratically are swiftly being eliminated.”
Erdogan rejects the notion that Turkey has anything but a free media, declaring in January that Turkish journalists were freer than any in Europe.
Tensions have risen anew in the run-up to a general election on Sunday, the second in five months and a vote critical to Erdogan’s political future. He wants the AK Party he founded to win back the majority it lost in June, enabling it to change the constitution and grant him stronger executive powers.
Police forced their way into the offices of an opposition media company on Wednesday, days ahead of the election, forcing two television stations already taken off the air to stop broadcasting over the internet.
The move, the authorities said, was backed by a court order and part of an investigation into the network of Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric accused by Erdogan of trying to topple him.
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر