Mass arrests, sackings of journalists and magazine banned in Turkish crackdown on press freedom - Press Gazette

Mass arrests, sackings of journalists and magazine banned in Turkish crackdown on press freedom

The Turkish government has issued an arrest warrant for a further 42 journalists, with others having already been detained, in an ongoing crackdown on the media following a failed coup attempt.

The International Federation of Journalists today denounced what it said was the “deterioration of democratic rule, of which press freedom is one of the pillars” in the country.

Turkey’s anti-terror prosecutor Irfan Fidan issued the arrest warrants yesterday as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continued to target those suspected of involvement in the 16 July coup attempt.

According to the IFJ, journalists have been accused of being members of the rebel group PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) that is fighting for an independent Kurdish state within Turkey.

It said Zehra Dogan, editor of news agency JINHA in Turkey, was arrested by police on Friday and accused of “being a member of the terrorist organisation PKK” during an interrogation.

Among the 42 named by Anatolian News Agency is Bülent Mumay, a director at the International News Media Association.

“I am just a person who practises journalism and describes himself as a critic,” Mumay told the BBC.

“So I am one of those they point the finger at and accuse of being part of the group who planned the coup.”

“Just look on Twitter and you will find several tweets from me strictly rejecting any kind of military coup.”

Turkish authorities have also banned publication of a special edition of satirical magazine LeMan after a court order on 20 July stopping the printing and distribution of the issue.

The following day, 300 staff at the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation were suspended from their jobs as part of the investigation into the Fetullah organisation (FETO), named as a terrorist organisation by the government, the IFJ has reported.

A further 60 editorial staff were fired from the Cihan news agency by court-appointed trustees.

IFJ President Philippe Leruth said: “Since the failed coup we have had to react even more against the media crackdown in Turkey.

“The new arrest warrants revealed today are aimed, one more time, to target journalists who are doing their jobs, criminalizing the journalistic work.

“The Turkish people that went on the streets on 23 July were showing their attachment to democratic values through their attachment to authorities elected by votes.

“Press freedom is an essential component of democracy. And clearly, it is even more at stake today.”

Turkey has declared a three-month state of emergency meaning authorities can hold suspects in detention without charge for up to 30 days without a court order.

So far, 60,000 people have been targeted in the crackdown that has drawn condemnation from the European Union and put Turkey’s accession to the EU at risk.

Turkey ranked 151 out of 180 in media watchdog Reporters Without Borders’ 2016 World Press Freedom Index.