Offbeat

Turkey a 'top jailer' of journalists, says exiled journalist Abdullah Bozkurt

Bozkurt an exiled Turkish journalist, has said that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan 'orchestrated the seizure' of major media companies, adding that his regime shut down almost 200 media outlets over the last three years. 

In an interview with ANI on Thursday, Bozkurt said that as many as 171 journalists, reporters and media workers have been jailed by the Erdogan regime. Bozkurt the author of 'Turkey Interrupted: Derailing Democracy", said that Erdogan wants to build a new Turkey based on nationalist ideologies and sees critical and independent media as an obstacle. 

The journalist said that Erdogan started the clampdown on media in 2015, just before the national election in a bid to control the narrative of the public debate. "The Erdogan Government wants to control the narrative in the public debate and cannot tolerate independent, critical and opposition views that will challenge the false news bytes, half-truth and fabricated information we often see in Turkey now. 

That is why Erdogan orchestrated the seizure of major media companies starting in 2015 before the national elections and continued in 2016," he said. 

"In the last three years alone, almost 200 media outlets were shut down and their assets were seized by the government," said Bozkurt who founded the Muhabir News Agency, which was shut down by the Turkish government in July 2016. 

As the government started attacking the journalists, Bozkurt fled to Sweden and has since lived there. "l had to flee to Sweden where I live now after the government started arresting so many journalists in 2016. 

As of today, 171 journalists, reporters and media workers are behind bars which tells the tale. Some of them I have worked with for years and some I know from the by-lines of news stories." 

"Turkey has been a top jailer of journalists in consecutive years which tells a lot about the crackdown on the freedom of press and expression in the country," he said.

"Erdogan wants to build a new Turkey based on Islamist and nationalist ideologies and sees critical and independent media as an obstacle in front of this dream. 

It is also easy for him to control the levers of the power including the judiciary, military, and intelligence in Turkey with the critical voices suppressed in the media," Bozkurt further said. 

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