Twelve international NGOs and journalism organizations are on a three-day mission to Turkey to investigate serious, continued threats to independent journalism in the country, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported on Thursday.
The mission began on October 6, and its delegates will meet in Ankara and Istanbul, as well as online, with editors, journalists and local civil society groups until October 8.
Led by the International Press Institute (IPI) and IPI’s Turkey National Committee, the mission includes representatives from ARTICLE 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), English PEN, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), Human Rights Watch (HRW), Norwegian PEN, Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT), PEN International, Reporters without Borders (RSF), and the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO).
Representatives of those organizations will also meet with Turkish MPs from various political parties, members of government regulatory bodies, foreign diplomats, European Union officials, representatives of leading global tech companies and the Turkish Constitutional Court.
The Turkish government increased its crackdown on critical media outlets and journalists in the aftermath of a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, following which dozens of journalists were jailed and more than 200 media outlets were closed down on the pretext of an anti-coup fight.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has again made it onto a list of “press freedom predators” published by Reporters without Borders (RSF) that includes 37 heads of state or government who crack down substantially on press freedom.
Turkey is ranked 153rd among 180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index released by the RSF in April.
According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom’s “Jailed and Wanted Journalists in Turkey” database, 174 journalists are behind bars in Turkey and 167 are wanted and either in exile or at large.