Media best guarantor of democracy, Turkey’s Erdoğan says

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan published a message to mark the Jan. 10 Working Journalists Day, saying he had always fought for freedom of speech of the media to let different cultures and ideas be expressed, BirGün newspaper said.

Erdoğan said that ensuring the right of society to get fast, accurate and unbiased news was the most prominent demonstration of being a democratic country.

“A participative society, which is open to the world and able to follow the problems of its own country and humanity and which is able to express ideas and doesn’t run away from the truth, can only be possible with free, transparent and fair media organisations,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying. “Turkey is one of the leading countries in the world in terms of press freedom, newest communication technologies, social media and internet journalism.”

“Throughout my political life, I have fought to make different voices and different cultures able to express themselves and their ideas freely even though I have been damaged by the media from time to time.”

Erdoğan said, Turkey had in the past been badly affected by the military influence on politics and the efforts of the generals to put pressure on democracy, law and elected governments.

According to the Freedom House’s report on Freedom of the Press 2017, Turkey’s press freedom status defined as “not free”.

The report also said media freedom in Turkey deteriorated dramatically in the aftermath of the coup attempt in July 2016.

“The press was particularly affected by the crackdown. More than 150 media outlets, including newspapers, television and radio channels, news agencies, magazines, publishing houses, and news websites, were forcibly shut down and had their assets seized in the months following the coup bid.”

As of December 2017, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said at least 81 journalists were behind bars in Turkey, making the country the world’s leading jailer of journalists.