Freedom of the press in Turkey
Critical voices are suppressed (Press Release)
On January 14, 2021, the trials against journalist Can Dündar and six other defendants will continue in Istanbul. The journalist, who lives in exile in Germany, and his co-defendants are to be prosecuted for their involvement in the so-called Gezi protests in the summer of 2013. "When the Chinese or Iranian regimes try to silence critical voices through harebrained lawsuits, there is prompt criticism – but it is incomprehensible that Germany and other NATO countries let their partner country Turkey get away with such actions without much ado," criticized Dr. Kamal Sido, Middle East Expert of the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP). "The North Atlantic Alliance is not only a military alliance, but also a community of values – so the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press must also apply in Turkey, without restrictions."
Germany and other EU states should also exert pressure on the Turkish government to implement legally binding rulings by courts in the country and, in particular, by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). "Even if critical media and cultural workers are acquitted by Turkish courts, they often remain in detention. Moreover, as a member of the Council of Europe, Turkey has ignored judgments of the ECHR by the dozen," Sido added. "In doing so, the Erdogan regime is wiping out even the last traces of a rule of law."
Last December, a Turkish court sentenced journalist Can Dündar (in absentia) to 18 years and nine months in prison for espionage, plus another eight years and nine months for supporting terrorism. "In reality, Dündar was researching the Erdogan government's support for radical Islamist groups in Syria," Sido emphasized. "…and the loyal judiciary clearly doesn’t care that the charges are unfounded."
The Turkish authorities have shut down at least 150 media companies in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt of July 2016. Kurdish or pro-Kurdish publishers, broadcasters, and websites were particularly affected, and masses of media workers were arrested. According to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 37 journalists were kept in custody in 2020. Other sources speak of at least 142 media workers who are kept detained in Turkey. The detainees belong to different political camps, ethnicities, or religious communities. Erdogan's regime considers them enemies and terrorists because of their critical stance on the country's domestic and foreign policies.