Turkey remains ranked 157 among 180 countries in press freedom index

Turkey is ranked 157th out of 180 countries ranked by Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) on its 2019 World Press Freedom Index, due to having the highest number of journalists behind bars and escalating government pressure on opposition media. 

Turkey’s ranking has not changed since last year.

“After the elimination of dozens of media outlets and the acquisition of Turkey’s biggest media group by a pro-government conglomerate, the authorities are tightening the vice on what little is left of pluralism – a handful of media outlets that are being harassed and marginalised,” RSF said. 

Some 90 percent of the Turkish media is now controlled by the government after Doğan media group was bought last year by the pro-government Demirören group. 

In Turkey, the world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists according to several rights groups, more than one-year pre-trial detentions are the new norm while long jail sentences are common, with some journalists such as Ahmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak receiving life jail terms without pardon, according to RSF. 

“Censorship of websites and online social media has reached unprecedented levels and the authorities are now trying to bring online video services under control,” RSF said. 

The Turkish parliament last year approved a bill giving the Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) the authority to regulate all kinds of internet broadcasting, while many in Turkey have become dependent on online news content, as online websites, blogs and social media have emerged as the centre of opposition following a failed coup in July 2016

Some 30 journalists in Turkey are currently in prison in connection with their journalistic work, according to data compiled by the RSF. 

Erol Önderoğlu, the representative of RSF in Turkey, is facing a 14-year, six-month jail term over three articles published in 2016 in pro-Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem, which was shut down the same year by the government along with nine more newspapers and two news agencies.