Turkish press still ‘not free,’ says Freedom House

Turkish press still ‘not free,’ says Freedom House

Turkish press still ‘not free,’ says Freedom House

AFP photo

Turkey continued to be defined as “not free” in U.S.-based think tank Freedom House’s 2016 report on press freedom, with its score going up six points and thus signifying a “deteriorating” trend. 

Turkey is among the countries that “suffered the largest declines” over 2015, along with Bangladesh, Burundi, France, Serbia, Yemen, Egypt, Macedonia, and Zimbabwe.

Freedom House marked Turkey’s 2016 press freedom score as 71 out of 100, with 100 being the worst. 
The report said media freedom in Turkey “deteriorated at an alarming rate in 2015,” with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) “aggressively [using] the penal code, criminal defamation legislation, and the country’s antiterrorism law to punish critical reporting.” 

It added that “journalists faced growing violence, harassment, and intimidation from both state and non-state actors during the year.”

The report highlighted key incidents against press freedom that took place in 2015, such as the prosecution of daily Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief Can Dündar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gül, and mob violence against the Istanbul office of daily Hürriyet. 

It also cited the targeting of media aligned to the movement of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

“The placement of media outlets owned by Koza İpek Holding under government trusteeship resulted in dozens of dismissals and changes in the outlets’ editorial lines, effectively making them more friendly toward the government,” the report stated.

Freedom House changed Turkey from “partly free” status to “not free” status in 2014, “as a result of a sharp deterioration in the press freedom environment in 2013,” citing the treatment journalists faced during the Gezi Park protests and the backlash against their coverage of corruption probes.