280 journalists appeared in court in Turkey in 2023: report

Journalists carrying placards "No to the censorship law" and "We are journalists" take part in a protest in front of the Constitutional Court in Ankara on November 8, 2023, regarding the law discussed by the Constitutional Court and known to the public as the “censorship law”. (Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP)

A total of 280 journalists appeared in at least 821 hearings in Turkish courts throughout 2023, according to a new report released by the Dicle Fırat Journalists Association (DFG).

The report deals with the situation of press freedom in the country, focusing on the obstructions and harassment faced by journalists while doing their jobs.

At least 26 journalists were detained, arrested and prosecuted under a controversial “disinformation” law that was enacted in 2022, the report said.

Other charges frequently leveled against members of the press included “targeting officials fighting against terrorism” and “libel,” often weaponized against journalists covering allegations of corruption and misconduct.

Media workers also faced physical attacks, such as journalist Sinan Aygül, who was assaulted in eastern Turkey by the security detail of local mayor Mehmet Emin Geylani after covering alleged municipal irregularities.

The report also addressed the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), the country’s broadcasting regulator, which is known for disproportionately sanctioning government-critical networks over political content as well as online censorship, which included access bans imposed on thousands of URLs containing news or commentary.

Following a coup attempt in July 2016, the Turkish government summarily shut down by executive decree nearly 200 media outlets for alleged ties to terrorism.

Turkey is often described as one of the world’s worst jailers of journalists, and it was ranked 165th out of 180 countries in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

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