Turkish media group reps. express concern over Erdoğan’s targeting of news anchor

Representatives from various media organisations in Turkey have expressed concern over recent statements by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan directed at a news anchor who questioned the freedom to peaceful protest in Turkey, Turkish news site Bianet reported.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blasted Fox TV news anchor Fatih Portakal on Monday for a second time in over his comments last week that it was not possible to hold a peaceful protest in Turkey for fear of the government.  “Some person is out calling people onto the streets. Know your place and if you don’t know your place, then the people of this country will,” Erdoğan said.

Turkey Representative to the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Erol Önderoğlu, Secretary General of Turkish Journalists' Association (TGC) Sibel Güneş, Journalists' Union of Turkey (TGS) Secretary General Mustafa Kuleli and Press Council of Turkey Secretary General Mustafa Eşmen have stressed that the comments both target and threaten the news anchor as well as freedom of the press in the country.

‘’As the Reporters Without Borders, we expect that they will put an end to these irresponsible statements which dangerously provoke social polarization. In the event that anything happens to Fatih Portakal after this point, we declare as the RSF that we will hold the president accountable," Turkey Representative to the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Erol Önderoğlu told Bianet.

Mustafa Kuleli from Journalists' Union of Turkey (TGS) pointed out that taking to the streets, holding a demonstration, staging a protest is a right, adding that Erdoğan, through his statements to Portakal, ‘’confesses that there does not exist an independent judiciary in Turkey and prosecutors take action upon his instruction.’’

Sibel Güneş, Secretary General of Turkish Journalists' Association (TGC), maintained that it was anti-democratic that journalists are being targeted by politicians.

Pointing out that freedom of expression and press is an indispensable part of democracies,, Secretary General of the Press Council of Turkey Mustafa Eşmen underlined that it was under no circumstances acceptable for a president to use a belittling language towards a member of the press.

A total of 161 journalists are in prison - with many still waiting for trial – and numerous others are facing criminal proceedings in Turkey, where 95 percent of the media landscape is controlled directly by the government, according to the International Press Institute (IPI).