Turkish gov’t closes 116 media outlets under state of emergency

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Hakan Çavuşoğlu announced that a total of 116 media outlets have been closed by government decrees under an ongoing state of emergency, according to a report by neo-nationalist online news outlet Odatv, although Çavuşoğlu failed to include media outlets on digital platforms.

Since the state of emergency was declared on July 20, 2016, five days after a controversial coup attempt, six private news agencies, 18 TV stations, 22 radio stations, 50 newspapers and 20 magazines have been shut down by the Turkish government, Çavuşoğlu said in response to a parliamentary question by Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu.

The main targets of the media closures have been media outlets affiliated with the Gülen movement, pro-Kurdish outlets and far-left outlets. According to the report, there has sometimes even been a geopolitical angle to the closures: The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)-affiliated television stations Rudaw and Kurdistan 24 were shut down after the autonomous region held an independence referendum that the Turkish government disagreed with.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Wednesday. 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 254 journalists and media workers were in jail as of May 8, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 192 were under arrest pending trial while only 62 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 142 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 the coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

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