Turkey’s ranking in Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) 2018 World Press Freedom Index, released on Thursday, remained at 157th out of 180 countries as the country continues its witch-hunt against journalists.
Turkey has been the world’s largest jailer of journalists according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) for three years in a row.
“After the elimination of dozens of media outlets and the acquisition of Turkey’s biggest media group by a pro-government conglomerate, the authorities are tightening the [vise] on what little is left of pluralism – a handful of media outlets that are being harassed and marginalized,” the RSF report said.
In early 2018 the Doğan media group was bought by the pro-government Demirören family, which put almost 95 percent of the Turkish media under the control of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to the International Media Institute (IPI).
“Turkey is the world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists. Spending more than a year in prison before trial is the new norm, and long jail sentences are common, in some cases as long as life imprisonment with no possibility of a pardon,” the report added.
“Censorship of websites and online social media has reached unprecedented levels and the authorities are now trying to bring online video services under control.”
The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 185 journalists and media workers were in jail as of April 22, 2019, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 95 were under arrest pending trial while 90 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 167 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.
The government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. (SCF with turkishminute.com)