Turkey’s Fox TV anchor Fatih Portakal on Monday admitted that they had avoided broadcasting an opposition deputy’s speech in parliament due to fear of legal repercussions, the Artı Gerçek news website reported.
Felicity Party (SP) deputy Cihangir İslam’s speech in parliament on Oct. 31 is under investigation by the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office.
Following his address, the pro-government media accused him of supporting the plotters of a failed coup in 2016.
“The 2016 coup attempt is a pretext, [the government] dismisses all dissidents, all those who tell the truth to their face. You’re not worshipping God, you’re worshipping an ordinary man,” İslam said, referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Fox TV reported on the investigation into İslam’s speech but did not cover the content of his remarks.
“Unfortunately we censored ourselves because we didn’t know what would happen to us. I admit it,” Portakal said on air. “If a deputy was being investigated over those remarks, the same prosecutor would launch an investigation into us for disseminating those words. This is shameful,” he added.
Journalist parts ways with pro-gov’t Hürriyet, citing censorship efforts
Meanwhile, Ayşe Baykal, who used to write for the Internet edition of the pro-government Hürriyet daily, announced on Monday that she had parted ways with the daily because she had recently been facing censorship efforts.
Writing from her Twitter account, Baykal said she made the decision to quit because she cannot fight censorship, which she said she was having difficulty understanding.
“I apologize to you because I won’t be able to fight against it [censorship]. I don’t want to lose my respect in either myself or in you. I just want you to know that I wrote every single line of my articles with great enthusiasm and did not care about any voice other than that of my conscience,” wrote the journalist.
When Baykal was hired by Hürriyet four years ago, it came as a surprise to many because it was unthinkable for a headscarf-wearing journalist to work at Hürriyet, which in the past had adopted a harsh stance against headscarf freedom in Turkey.
Hürriyet was known as the flagship newspaper of the Doğan Media Group, which was the largest and most influential media group in Turkey until recently.
The Doğan Media Group was sold to the Demirören Group in March. Many interpreted this development as the final nail in the coffin of press freedom in Turkey as the Demirören Group is known to be close to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and its chairman Erdoğan.
Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 239 journalists and media workers were in jail as of October 31, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 170 were under arrest pending trial while only 69 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 148 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.
Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. (SCF with turkishminute.com)