October 02, 2014, Thursday/ AP / ISTANBUL
An international media freedom watchdog said that while Turkey has released many journalists from prison recently, the government is creating a more fearful climate for critical media.
The chairman of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Sandy Rowe, and counterparts from the International Press Institute (IPI) are meeting Turkish officials on Thursday, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The CPJ has previously cited Turkey as being the world’s worst offender for imprisoning journalists. But Rowe said all but 10 journalists have been released, though some only conditionally.
Still, after discussions with journalists in Turkey, she said the government has failed to stop intimidating journalists who have published critical material.
“What we have heard from them consistently is that the overall conditions and climate of fear and intimidation that many journalists feel has increased,” she said.
She noted that journalists who come under government criticism are often threatened by its supporters on social media.
“It, of course, tracks immediately to social media and it is going way beyond name calling on criticism and it includes threats of harm — threats of real bodily harm or murder,” she said. “That’s very troubling; it shouldn’t happen and in the case of Turkey we wish the government would speak out against it.”
Rowe also criticized the government for restrictions on the Internet and social media, noting the temporary blocks on Twitter and YouTube by the government this year. Turkey’s high court later overturned the blocks, calling them unconstitutional.
CPJ and IPI were expected to issue a statement following their meetings in Ankara.