Turkey loses no.1 media jailer crown to China
A media watchdog says Turkey has jailed almost as many journalists as China, along with Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
China recently overtook Turkey as the largest media jailer, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
The annual report said “authoritarianism, instability and protests” in West Asia and North Africa were the primary factors behind the arrests.
China currently holds 47 media prisoners, the committee’s report said.
Abdullah Bozkurt, an exiled Turkish journalist, has accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of seizing major media companies with almost 200 media firms closing over the last three years.
He founded the Muhabir News Agency, which was shut down by the government in July 2016 in the wake of the botched coup.
Bozkurt said as many as 171 media employees had been jailed under Erdogan.
The author of “Turkey Interrupted: Derailing Democracy” said Erdogan wanted to build a Turkey based on nationalism and an independent media was seen as an obstacle.
Bozkurt said Erdogan began to restrict media freedom before the 2015 general election.
“The Erdogan government wants to control the narrative in the public debate and cannot tolerate independent, critical and opposition views that will challenge the false news, half-truth and fabricated information we often see in Turkey now. That is why Erdogan orchestrated the seizure of major media companies starting in 2015 before the national election and continued in 2016,” Bozkurt said.
“In the last three years alone, almost 200 media outlets were shut down and their assets were seized by the government,” said Bozkurt.
“I had to flee to Sweden where I live now after the government started arresting so many journalists in 2016. Some of them I have worked with for years and some I know from the bylines of news stories.
“Turkey has been a top jailer of journalists in consecutive years which tells a lot about the crackdown on the freedom of press and expression in the country,” the exiled journalist said.
“Erdogan wants to build a new Turkey based on Islamist and nationalist ideologies and sees critical and independent media as an obstacle in front of this dream. It is also easy for him to control the levers of the power including the judiciary, military and intelligence in Turkey with the critical voices suppressed in the media,” he said.
Picture credit: Eurasia Times