01/05/2018, 13.59
TURKEY
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Erdogan gags press: 189 journalists detained, 58 arrested in 2017

The figures for last year published in a report by the Free Journalists Initiative (ÖGİ). Ministry of Telecommunications blocks four news sites. Since failed coup, 81 journalists handed down a total of 183 years in prison and almost 100 thousand dollars in fines.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) - In the year that has just ended, the Turkish authorities have arrested and detained 189 journalists for questioning; of these, at least 58 were transferred to prison where they are still in custody awaiting trial. These are the figures for 2017 contained in a report published this week by the Free Journalists Initiative (ÖGİ). A detailed analysis that confirms, once again, the witch hunt launched by the government of Ankara and the Turkish president, in the aftermath of the failed coup in July 2016.

Today the Turkish Telecommunications Ministry (Btk) also blocked access to four websites, in compliance with a court provision. The news agencies Mezopotamya (MA), the Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, 1HaberVar and the Demokrat Haber have been targeted by the judiciary. These are mostly sites that spread pro-Kurdish information, invisible to the government.

In the "Report on press freedom violations in 2017" the heads of ÖGİ state that to date there are 165 journalists held in prison, awaiting trial or formalization of their indictment. Last year, the authorities filed 189 complaints against as many reporters and, of these, 58 ended up in prison.

From the data contained in the report, it also emerges that last year: 35 newspapers or magazines were closed, implementing the post-coup emergency decree; access prevented to 37 websites; 25 other journalists were driven out of public institutions or government departments; the professional qualification card revoked from about a hundred journalists; A total of over 183 years in prison and $ 95,000 in fines were imposed on the 81 journalists who were put on trial.

Just over one and a half years since the failed coup in Turkey during the night between July 14 and 15 2016, which has facilitated rather than undermined the total dominion of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the campaign of repressionlaunched by the authorities against alleged accomplices or supporters continues. Among the accusations, most often pretentious, the affiliation to Kurdish "terrorist" groups or the belonging to the movement that belongs to the Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, in exile in Pennsylvania (United States).

According to Erdogan and leading authorities, he is the true mastermind of the coup in Turkey during which 270 people died and thousands were injured. In recent months, the Turkish leader - who defined the coup d'état a "gift from God" - promoted (and won with a narrow margin and amid accusations of fraud) a referendum on expanding the presidential mandate. Now he is in fact the father of the nation.

The Turkish authorities campaign against press did not stop even during the Christmas holidays. Last December 25, 17 journalists and heads of the oldest Turkish newspaper, Cumhuriyet, were arrested bar, accused of supporting terrorist organizations.

One of the accused, the famous investigative reporter Ahmet Şık, tried to read a defensive memorandum and was thrown out of the courtroom. He had defined the dispute brought against the historic newspaper as a "conspiracy based on lies".

The day after the representative of Reporters Without Borders (Rsf) in Turkey Erol Önderoğlu and some leading academics were brought to trial. Even for the latter, the indictment is that of propaganda for a terrorist organization. For many the repression promoted by Erdogan is even worse than the one triggered by the military coup of 1980.

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