Situation of media freedom not improved in Turkey despite release of 20 imprisoned journalists: CPJ

Turkey, once the world’s worst jailer of journalists, is now ranked sixth in the Committee to Protect Journalists 2021 prison census after releasing 20 jailed journalists in the last year, but this doesn’t mean media freedom has improved in the country, according to a report published by the press freedom watchdog today.

Turkey’s crackdown on the press, which increased dramatically after a coup attempt in 2016, effectively eradicated the country’s mainstream media and prompted many journalists to leave the profession. The report said one reason Turkey’s prison count was declining was because the government allowed more journalists out of jail to await trial or appeal outcomes.

According to the report there was a stark global trend in growing intolerance of independent reporting, with 24 journalists killed because of their coverage this year.

Following the coup attempt in July 2016 that claimed the lives of more than 250 civilians, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government intensified its crackdown on media outlets and journalists critical of it under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.

Turkey, which has dropped precipitously since it was ranked 100th among 139 countries when Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published its first worldwide index in 2002, the year the AKP came to power, was ranked 153rd out of 180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index.

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