Erdoğan says Turkey has more press freedom than most Western countries

Turkey's autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

At a time when Turkey ranks the first as the jailer of the most number of journalists, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said the press freedom in Turkey is more than the press freedom in most Western countries.

Speaking to the Qatar-based al-Arab newspaper, Erdoğan denied claims that there is regression with regards to the freedoms in Turkey, saying that it is possible to criticize the government in the country.

“The opposition in Turkey can direct the heaviest criticisms against the government through its own media. The closure of some media organs is the result of the rulings of the judiciary. The media outlets which are affiliated with terror [organizations] and make terror propaganda have been closed down,” Erdoğan said.

In the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15, hundreds of media organizations in the country including newspapers, magazines, news agencies have been closed down on terror charges. The closed-down media outlets include Turkey’s best-selling newspaper Zaman.

With regard to the high number of journalists jailed in Turkey, Erdoğan said those journalists were not put behind bars due to journalistic activities but because of terrorist activity.

“What would happen if a newspaper’s or a TV channel’s links to al-Qaeda are revealed? Is it possible not to take legal action against them for the sake of freedom of the press ? The press freedom in Turkey is more than it is in most Western countries,” Erdoğan said.

According to a recent report from the new advocacy group, the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), 191 journalists are in jail, 92 are wanted and 839 have been charged in Turkey. (turkishminute.com) Feb. 16, 2017

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