Turkish authorities and President Erdogan have lambasted Saudi Arabia for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Yet Turkey is a harsh authoritarian when it coems to how they treat journalists as well. Erdogan publicly touts Turkey as a bastion of freedom of the press, as he spoke on Journalist's Day in January saying:
"Turkey numbers among the world’s leading countries in matters of press freedom, the most advanced communications technologies, social media, the internet and journalism."
But Erdogan likes to put journalists in jail for, over 70 so far. He says they are part of a failed coup and are terrorists and criminals. He's been eliminating dissent and criticism ever since he took power.
Husnu Mahalli and lawyer Muhterem Aktas - Source
Syrian-Turkish journalist Husnu Mahalli is a new case of Erdogan's attack on journalists. He's been given a 29-month prison sentence. His crime was "insulting the president", as he called Erdogan a "dictator". Another 20-month sentence for "insulting government officials" was suspended.
Mahalli is a veteran journalist who writes for the daily Sozcu. He was arrested in 2016 for insulting government officials on social media, on TV and in his columns, the charges say. He was released on bail as he waited for a court trial a month later. In his defense he said he was only doing his job as a journalist:
"I did not insult the president. I have always referred to him as ‘Mr. President’. The word ‘dictator’ does not include insult. It is an international definition relating to power held by one person."
Erdogan's lawyer argued that it's an "insulting crime" and asked "for his conviction". The court suspended the 20-month sentence for insulting the government officials, but applied a 29-month sentence for insulting Erdogan. Muhalli's lawyer, Muhterem Aktas, is going to appeal both sentences.
Erdogan does what he can to eliminate his critics, using all the power at his disposal in government to do it. He used the government to get Interpol to track down a journalist he wanted to toss in jail in October:
Journalism in Turkey has come under renewed scrutiny after an Istanbul court issued an international arrest warrant for two prominent writers living overseas.
In a hearing against journalists linked to the Cumhuriyet newspaper, the 27th High Criminal Court said it would request the issuance of Interpol “red notices” for Can Dundar and Ilhan Tanir. The order notifies all Interpol member states that the individual has pending arrest warrants.
Mr Dundar, the newspaper’s former editor-in-chief, and Mr Tanir, its ex-Washington correspondent, currently live in Germany and the US respectively.
Turkey's draconian anti-press policies are an attack on free speech and freedom of expression. Former Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Baris Yarkadas tweeted that the penalties against Mahalli "are not legal". Erdogan doesn't like being accurately described as a dictator, as Muhalli stated is what Erdogan was doing at his trial. When the truth isn't liked, tyrants attack it and make it a crime to speak. By acting this way, Erdogan has proved Muhalli correct: he is indeed a dictator.
- Journalist Gets Prison Sentence After Calling Erdogan ‘Dictator’
- Interpol Alert Issued By Turkey For Exiled Journalists President Erdogan Wants To Toss In Jail
- Turkey issues Interpol 'red notice' for prominent journalists in exile
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