Press Freedom

‘In Turkey, 120 journalists thrown in jail’ Mike Masnick says

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The columnist of, Mike Masnick wrote an article on press freedom in Turkey.

Last week, we wrote about the atrocious treatment of famed Canadian reporter Ed Ou by the US’s Customs & Border Patrol agents. Ou was on his way to document the protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline and he was detained, had his devices confiscated and searched, and then was denied entry into the US. And, of course, as we’ve seen before in similar stories, Homeland Security’s response to these sorts of stories is to shrug and basically say “we don’t have to tell you anything.”


But, already, those actions are being used by authoritarian regimes to justify cracking down on journalists elsewhere. As you may have heard, Turkey’s notoriously thin skinned President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been cracking down against basically anyone who doesn’t like him these days — with a particular focus on journalists. He’s been throwing them in jail by the dozens. Literally. There were the 42 journalists jailed in July and the 13 journalists in October and another 9 in November. As of a few weeks ago, the total was calculated at around 120 journalists thrown in jail by Erdogan.

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Not surprisingly, this has resulted in various journalism organizations condemning Turkey’s jailing of journalists. Governments, including the European Parliament have condemned it as well.

But Turkey is basically calling everyone hypocrites. As pointed out by Trevor Timm, Turkey’s state news agency has attacked the hypocrisy of “Western media” and its claims to press freedoms.

Turkey’s General Directorate of Press and Information (BYEGM) on Friday accused countries critical of Turkey’s media environment of turning a blind eye to press freedoms in their own jurisdictions.

Research compiled by the body questioned Western states’ claims that freedom of the press was unlimited in their countries.

Recalling that among the countries frequently criticizing Turkey were France, Germany, the U.K., Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands and the U.S., the BYEGM research questioned whether journalists and other media workers were able to work freely in these nations.

The research presented examples of constraints and censorship faced by media workers in those countries.

And, of course, one of the examples used, is what US Homeland Security did to Ou, among other examples, including the arrests of journalists covering the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, two years ago.

Friday’s BYEGM statement recalled an incident in October involving a Canadian journalist called Edward Ou who wanted to shoot video of Native Americans protesting against a pipeline planned for Dakota state in the U.S.

“He [Ou] was not allowed to enter the U.S.,” the BYEGM said, adding: “Edward Ou was held at the border for six hours and during this time his telephone and cameras were confiscated.”

In the U.S. “14 journalists, including Anadolu Agency, Die Welt and Bild correspondents” were arrested amid unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, following the fatal police shooting of a black man in 2014.

The BYEGM went on to state: “In Baltimore incidents, City Paper’s photo editor JM Giardano was beaten by the police and photographer Sait Serkan Gurbuz, who was working for Reuters, was taken into custody.”

In July 2016 the Middle East correspondent of the Wall Street Journal, Maria Abi-Habib, “was taken into custody by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on the grounds that she was a journalist ‘traveling dangerous locations'”.

Of course, there’s a massive difference in the (yes, wrongful) arrests and detainment of journalists in the US over reporting with the purposeful jailing of journalists, including charging some with horrific crimes, in Turkey. But by not stopping this ridiculous bad behavior, such as what happened to Ou with border agents, we’re handing Turkey and other authoritarian regimes an easy excuse to continue their efforts to completely eradicate a free and open press.

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