Witch Hunting in Turkey: Erdoğan Bans Press Freedom?


Turkey has been witnessing a drop in press freedom as a result of a media crackdown. A prominent editor of the country called it a witch hunting. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is allegedly leading a media witch hunt.

Can Dündar, the editor of the oldest Turkish daily, Cumhuriyet and one of the critics of President Erdoğan, had to appear in court recently over a documentary he produced addressing the issue of the government’s corruption. He was also arrested and later released this February over spying charges for a story on arms shipments to Syria.

Dündar was arrested in November last year along with Cumhuriyet’s Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gül. They were charged with espionage and exposing state secrets.

The Guardian quoted Can Dündar, who observed, “Turkey has never been a paradise for journalists but of course not a hell like this. Nowadays being a journalist is much more dangerous than ever and needs courage and self-confidence.”

Dündar added, “It’s a kind of witch-hunt … like McCarthyism in the US in the 1950s.”

The journalists in the country said that it was the worst crackdown on press freedom. Almost 2000 individuals, reporters, celebrities, academics and students have been investigated on the charges ranging from insulting the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to spreading terrorist propaganda, reported Voice of America.

Not only the journalists in the country but foreign journalists are also under scrutiny. In April Turkey denied entry to a reporter of German State TV. In the same way, American journalist David Lepeska returned to Ankara after a vacation in Italy and he was prevented from entering the country.

Lepeska said, “I was told to wait in the immigration waiting area for a final decision from Ankara regarding my entry to Turkey, After nearly 20 hours that decision still hadn’t come so, on the advice of my employers and an adviser, I decided to fly out of the country.”

Lepeska also stated that during his three-year reporting in the country he had never face such restrictions.

Recently, the country attempted to prosecute a German satirist. Jan Böhmermann has been facing prosecution as he read out an offensive poem about the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on TV.

Experts, as well as, journalists have opined that the crackdown on press freedom is the result of President Erdoğan’s intolerance of criticism and reflects the power struggle between him and his former ally, Fethullah Gülen.


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