Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ has said nobody in Turkey is under investigation for having written an article or published a news report as a journalist, despite the fact that efforts are being made to create such a perception among the public, the Doğan news agency reported on Wednesday.
Bozdağ’s remarks came during a media workshop held in Ankara by the International Culture, Tourism and Democracy Congress.
“Turkey today is faced with a huge case of perception management claiming ‘journalists are in prison’ or ‘editors are in prison.’ … Everybody is equal before the law according to the Turkish Constitution. It is not possible to distinguish between criminals based on their jobs, status or labels. In the prisons of the Turkish Republic, no one is under investigation for writing articles or publishing news, for solely journalistic activities,” Bozdağ said.
Claiming that media organizations and their properties were seized before the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government came to power, Bozdağ said the AKP had removed bans on books and articles and freed up scientific research.
Despite Bozdağ’s attempts to deny it, according to the International Press Institute (IPI) a total of 171 journalists are currently imprisoned in Turkey due to their journalistic activities.
More than 160 media outlets with critical editorial policies have been seized by the government, and many of them were sold to pro-gov’t media groups without a tender.
Turkey has drifted into a severely oppressive regime particularly since massive corruption investigations in December 2013 and a botched coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Turkey has been undertaking a massive purge since the coup attempt that is not limited to journalists. Thousands of academics, judges, prosecutors, lawyers, teachers and doctors are behind bars over charges of coup involvement.