February 12, 2015

Turkey’s press crackdown worsened in spite of slight climb in rank

Reporters Without Borders discloses World Press Freedom Index for 2014 placing Turkey in 149th place, a five point climb from 154th. However the organization was quick to note that this was by no means an improvement.

Freedom of the Press Worldwide, 2014
Freedom of the Press Worldwide, 2014

“Turkey’s rise in the index must be put in context,” noted Reporters Without Borders in its description posted on the website, adding “It was due above all to the conditional release in 2014 of around 40 imprisoned journalists who nonetheless continue to face prosecution and could be detained again at any time.”

The index description paints an even darker portrait of the country's press freedom, underlining “Turkey’s “underlying situation” score – covering such areas as cyber-censorship, lawsuits, dismissals of critical journalists and gag orders – actually worsened, showing that freedom of information continues to decline.”

The Turkish government’s vendetta towards the Gülen Movement, consisting of followers and sympathizers of Islamic Scholar Fethullah Gülen was also directly mentioned.

“Rocked by major corruption allegations, the government has done everything possible to rein in the influence of its new Public Enemy No. 1, the Gülen Movement, to the increasing detriment of the rule of law.

The Turkish government has continued its attacks on the movement claiming it had orchestrating the high profile 2013, December 17-25 graft probes. There is widely held belief that the government’s ‘blame-game’ is an effort to cover up the corruption allegations. On December 14 2014, a raid was conducted against the Zaman daily, and Samanyolu Broadcast Group Hidayet Karaca was arrested on highly controversial terror charges, based on a fictional TV miniseries broadcast on the network five years ago.

Published on BGNNews, 12 February 2015, Thursday