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Turkey press freedom: News portals shut down

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

After the Gezi Park protests hundreds of journalists lost their jobs, and dozens of media portals bowed down to authority and gave in. There were a few courageous journalists who tried to stand up straight and carry out their duty towards the public at large. Many of them were subjected to physical attacks, lynching campaigns, digital lynching, and reputation-assassination attempts. Yesterday marked a new low in AKP’s approach to press freedom in Turkey. The newspaper that was established by the journalists fired right after Gezi Protests, Karsi (“The Opposed”), was raided by policemen.

According to the chief editor of Karsi, the police did not present any court order or mandate to raid the building or seize servers. Police arbitrarily raided the building and shouted to remove news pieces regarding the corruption probe that was leaked to the public eye in Turkey between 17-25 December 2013. There was no involvement of courts in this illegal request. The editors demanded the raid be stopped but the answer was loud and clear: “Unless critical news pieces are removed, the whole news portal will be blocked!”

And today, unsurprisingly, access to Karsi’s news portal online was blocked… The portal continues to use a proxy news portal for “uncensored news” (sansursuz haber) until it also gets subjected to same treatment.

Another non-surprise of the day is that the newly established “Grey Line” (Gri Hat) news portal has also been taken to court and access blocking declared, for its potential to distribute critical news material about corruption records. Gri Hat was established not more than a month ago by unemployed/fired journalists and it was going to leak more news pieces regarding all kinds of corruption.

Turkey still scores terribly low in terms of press freedom with dozens of journalists imprisoned (the highest number in the world) and reporters being targeted on a daily basis, designated as targets by government officials, subjected to physical attacks and all-too-familiar censorship. When combined with censorship attempts on the Internet, books, movies and all other news platforms, it is not hard to see the trend’s direction and momentum in the coming days. If alternative/opposed news portals continue getting raided or subjected to threats and give in to such pressure, the future of democracy hangs on spikes in Turkey.

More stories by Gürkan Özturan

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