Oct. 22, 2012
By Daren Butler
ISTANBUL — Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government has waged one of the world’s biggest crackdowns on press freedom in recent years, jailing more journalists than Iran, China or Eritrea, a leading media watchdog said on Monday.
The damning report from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) added to a chorus of criticism from the European Union and rights groups of the EU-candidate country’s mass detention of reporters, most of whom are kept in detention while their cases are dealt with.
Around two-thirds were journalists writing about the largely Kurdish southeast, where the government is fighting a separatist rebellion.
The U.S.-based watchdog criticised Erdogan’s public disparagement of journalists, the use of pressure tactics to encourage self-censorship, and the launching of thousands of criminal cases against reporters on charges such as “denigrating Turkishness”.
“Turkey’s press freedom situation has reached a crisis point,” the watchdog said in a 50-page report.
“The CPJ has found highly repressive laws … a criminal procedure code that greatly favours the state; and a harsh anti-press tone set at the highest levels of government,” it said.
Erdogan was first elected a decade ago with an overwhelming majority and has presided over a period of unprecedented prosperity, winning him admirers among Western nations keen to portray Turkey as an example in a troubled region.
But that success story has been undermined by growing criticism of the authoritarian style of his rule.
Hundreds of politicians, academics and journalists are in jail on charges of plotting against the government, while more than 300 army officers were convicted last month of conspiring against Erdogan almost a decade ago, and handed long jail terms.
Full Article Here – http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/10/22/turkey-journalists/