Freedom of press and expression in Turkey expanded “incomparably’’: Erdoğan’s Communications Director

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Freedom of press and expression in Turkey have expanded  “incomparably’’ from two decades ago, when the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came into power, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s communications director said on Saturday.

Turkish media maintains diversity and an environment of freedom, with “certain circles’’ within and outside of the country exploiting this situation, state-run Anadolu news agency cited Fahrettin Altun as saying in a statement released on the occasion of  “Working Journalists Day.”

Turkey ranks 154th among 180 countries in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, with the press freedom watching noting that the country “is more authoritarian than ever,” in its latest annual ranking report.

Turkey’s ruling AKP has intensified a crackdown on the media following the failed coup attempt in July 2016. Scores of journalists have been imprisoned or harassed with legal challenges and more than 200 media outlets have been closed down. Critical media outlets, which manage to survive the post-failed putsch crackdown, have been forced into self-censorship. 

“The progress Turkey has made in recent years, manifests itself in media, too, with the formation of a pro-freedom and diverse (media) environment,’’ Altun said.

“Freedom of press and expression have been expanded and assured in a way that is incomparable with 20 years ago,’’ the Erdoğan aide added.

The AKP government shut down more than 175 news outlets and jailed 135 journalists as part of a crackdown on critical media since the 2016 coup attempt.

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