TGC official says 60 journalists faced legal cases since graft probe

The secretary-general of the Turkish Journalists’ Association (TGC), Mustafa Kuleli, has said that since the corruption probe that incriminated government ministers and businessmen went public in 2013, more than 100 lawsuits have been filed against 60 journalists, as part of the government’s increasing intimidation of reporters. In his meeting with EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, Kuleli complained

The secretary-general of the Turkish Journalistsand#39 Association (TGC), Mustafa Kuleli, has said that since the corruption probe that incriminated government ministers and businessmen went public in 2013, more than 100 lawsuits have been filed against 60 journalists, as part of the governmentand#39s increasing intimidation of reporters.

In his meeting with EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, Kuleli complained about the unfavorable conditions for journalists working in Turkey.

andldquoYou cannot expect people to be andlsquoheroes of press freedomand#39 when they are paid on average 500 euros [per month] and work under pressure,andrdquo said Kuleli.

Hahn, noting that the EU is not comfortable with leveling similar criticisms at Turkey in its progress reports for the country, said the EU will work more closely with the TGC to revise the methods used during the preparation of the EU progress report for Turkey.

Hahn also noted that the EU candidate countries are expected to respect basic workersand#39 rights and allow unions to represent journalists.

Press aocacy groups have highlighted deteriorating press freedoms in Turkey, noting that the crackdown on the media has only intensified since the corruption scandal broke in 2013.

US-based watchdog Freedom House has cited Turkey among the andldquonot freeandrdquo countries in its latest press release in January.

The report highlighted President Recep Tayyip ErdoIanand#39s intensified campaign against media freedom and civil society as evidence of a growing disdain for democratic standards in the world, along with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisiand#39s rollback of democratic gains and Russian President Vladimir Putinand#39s invasion of Ukraine.

The report stated that a troubling number of large, economically powerful or regionally influential countries have regressed.

Turkey was cited among those countries, next to Azerbaijan, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Russia, Thailand and Venezuela

Freedom House stated that the media and judiciary both faced andldquoreater interference by the executive and legislative branches, including a series of raids and arrests targeting media outlets affiliated with ErdoIanand#39s political enemies.andrdquo

France-based press aocacy group Reporters Without Borders ranked Turkey 149th out of 180 countries in its annual press freedom report released last month.

.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman