Concern over Turkey’s media crackdown
ISTANBUL: The EU and journalist associations have expressed concern about a widening crackdown on media in Turkey, calling on Ankara to respect fundamental freedoms.
As a candidate nation for EU membership, Turkey “needs to aspire to the highest possible democratic standard and practices, including on the freedom of the media”, said EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic.
Turkey declared a state of emergency following a failed July 15 coup attempt that left 290 people dead, and is conducting a large-scale crackdown on people suspected of ties to US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the government accuses of masterminding the coup bid.
Gulen himself has denied any knowledge of the attempted coup.
Turkey has detained nearly 16 000 people over suspected links to the failed uprising, and about half of them were formally arrested to face trial.
In total, more than 66 000 people have been suspended or dismissed from their jobs in the wider public sector for alleged ties to the Gulen movement, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency, including in health care, education, the judiciary, ministries, municipalities and even Turkey’s national airline.
“It is worrying that, following the entry into force of the state of emergency in Turkey, arrest warrants have been issued against a large number of journalists and a number of outlets have been shut down,” Kocijancic told reporters in Brussels.
Kocijancic said it was “extremely important the Turkish authorities respect under any circumstances the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms”.
Ankara has defended the crackdown, saying it is rooting out people affiliated with Gulen.
Dozens of media organisations – most of them also linked or formerly linked to Gulen – were ordered shuttered late last Wednesday.
They include 45 newspapers including the daily Taraf newspaper, 16 television stations, including a children’s channel, 23 radio stations, 15 magazines and 29 publishing houses.
Gulen was an ally of Erdogan until tensions between the two came to a head with corruption allegations against Erdogan’s inner circle in 2013. – ANA-AP