Freedom of the press sustained further blows in Turkey in 2020, report reveals

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A press freedom report drafted by the Turkish Journalists’ Association (TGC) for the year 2020 shows that there has been further regression in freedom of the press in Turkey, where journalists have frequently been subjected to harassment in the judicial system and censorship for performing their jobs.

The TGC report, released on Dec. 31, shows that 361 cases were launched against journalists, 86 journalists were detained and 306 were fired from their jobs in 2020, while 97 journalists had to resign due to pressure and censorship efforts from their superiors.

Turkish courts censored independent media outlet reports 368 times in the same period, while books, movies and plays were also banned due to their content.

In addition Turkey’s broadcasting watchdog, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), imposed 67 fines on media organizations, ruled for the closure of a TV station, ordered 49 blackouts and issued warnings to TV stations six times in 2020, according to the same report.

RTÜK has long been criticized for surrendering its independence and acting as a government weapon to punish TV stations critical of the Justice and Development (AKP) government while turning a blind eye to complaints about pro-government TV stations.

Sixty-two journalists became the victims of physical violence in 58 incidents in 2020, the report also showed.

One of the leading jailers of journalists in the world, Turkey was ranked 154th out of 180 countries in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Press freedom in Turkey received a severe blow after a failed coup in July 2016 following which the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on independent media outlets under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. Dozens of journalists were arrested, while hundreds of media outlets were closed down on bogus terrorism charges following the coup attempt.

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