Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the Turkish government of silencing independent media in an attempt to block scrutiny or criticism of Ankara’s large-scale crackdown on dissidents following an abortive July 15 military coup.
The New York-based rights group said in a report on Thursday that Turkey’s “assault” on critical journalism had accelerated after the putsch and that journalists had described the atmosphere in which they work as “stifling.”
The watchdog said some 140 media outlets and 29 publishing houses had been shut down since mid-July under post-coup emergency decrees, leaving over 2,500 journalists and media workers without jobs.
Accusing Ankara of using the criminal justice system as a tool against the media, the HRW also said the government in Turkey interfered with editorial independence and forced outlets to dismiss critical journalists.
“Keeping 148 journalists and media workers in jail and closing down 169 media and publishing outlets under the state of emergency shows how Turkey is deliberately flouting basic principles of human rights and rule of law central to democracy,” said Hugh Williamson, the Europe and Central Asia director at the HRW.
The Thursday report was based on interviews with 61 journalists, editors, lawyers, and press freedom activists as well as on reviews of court documents. It came after another report by the non-governmental media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) earlier this week, which said Turkey had become the “world’s biggest prison for the media profession.”