International press body concerned over anti-press rhetoric of Turkish authorities
This file photo shows a group of journalists (not pictured) protesting against the lack of press freedom in Turkey. DHA photoThe Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an international press freedom advocacy group, has sent a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan voicing concerns over the “continued press freedom crisis” in Turkey.
The heated anti-press rhetoric coming from the top echelons of power causes media owners to clear their newsrooms of independent voices, read the CPJ letter, addressed to Erdoğan and sent on Sept. 17.
The letter also highlighted the ongoing criminal prosecutions of journalists in retaliation for their work, and slammed the government’s promoting of self-censorship.
The media environment in Turkey is “extremely difficult,” with new concerns appearing throughout last year, the letter stated, adding that the CPJ was particularly concerned about the continued jailing of journalists and the linkage of reporting that challenges government policies with terrorism.
The letter also slams the government’s threats to restrict social media.
In June, Erdoğan described the microblogging website Twitter as a “menace.”
The CPJ letter referred to the Twitter campaign launched by Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek defaming a BBC journalist, Selin Girit, as an English spy. Girit received “a large number of threatening messages” in response to the mayor’s actions, the letter quoted a BBC statement drawing attention on the issue as saying.
‘Release all journalists’
The CPJ asks for the immediate release of all Turkish journalists held in pre-trial detention, and calls on the government to cease using journalism as evidence of criminal activity.
“Stop the pressure being applied to the Turkish media to tone down their coverage or get rid of critics,” the letter read, asking the government to reform all “laws routinely used against the media.”
Five of the 11 journalists detained in January on charges of belonging to a banned terrorist organization remain in prison today, while several of those detained have reported being beaten in police custody, the CPJ letter claimed, based on its own research into the matter.