Head of the country designated as the largest jailer of professional journalist in the world, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed in a message on Wednesday that thanks to the reforms that have been accomplished under his rule, Turkey has a more democratic and free media.
Releasing a message on the eve of Working Journalists Day, Erdoğan described an unrestricted media as a requirement of democracy.
“Although I have been harmed by the media from time to time, I have always struggled, and still do struggle, to make sure that diverse voices and cultures are able to freely express themselves and voice their opinions,” Erdoğan said, the Anadolu news agency reported.
Turkey has been designated the largest jailer of professional journalists in the world by a number of international watchdogs. Reporters without Borders (RSF) in December published a report titled “Worldwide round-up of journalists killed, detained, held hostage, or missing in 2018” that includes comprehensive coverage of all violations against journalists around the world. The section on Turkey directs attention to the “despotic” nature of the regime, stating that in 2018 more than 80 journalists were given long prison sentences or fines on charges such as dissemination of terrorist propaganda, denigrating the Turkish identity and insulting the head of state.
However, in his message to celebrate journalists day, Erdoğan said, “Only a free and fair media can help achieve a society that is open to the world, able to follow every issue of concern to its country and humanity, that can voice its opinions, that is participatory and faces up to the realities of the day as they are.
Turkey continues to jail and persecute journalists as media outlets continue to be punished by the authorities for their critical coverage. Since a failed coup attempt in July 2016 a total of 189 media outlets have been shut down, according to TurkeyPurge.com.