Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress, the Istanbul Policy Center, and the Istituto Affari Internazionali released the second in a series of essays written by prominent Turkish intellectuals on the big issues affecting Turkey. The series—called “Voices from Turkey”—is part of Turkey 2023, a trilateral initiative that aims to outline a long-term prosperity vision for Turkey, explore its role in Europe and the trans-Atlantic relationship, assess the state of the republic and its institutions, and examine its position in the region and the world 100 years after its foundation.
In this installment, Turkish author Mustafa Akyol documents the precipitous decline of press freedom in Turkey. The essay outlines the economic and prosecutorial techniques Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, use to suppress dissenting voices. The government’s moves to undermine press freedom include arresting journalists for allegedly insulting the president, pressuring the owners of media outlets to fire journalists who are critical of the government, and prosecuting reporters on charges of “spreading terrorist propaganda” or “being a member of terrorist organization.”
The government and its supporters have also used legal and extralegal commercial pressure to silence or control of media outlets critical of President Erdoğan or his government. These tactics include politically motivated tax fines, trusteeship rulings from friendly courts resulting in mass dismissals, or forced sales. These tools have caused five major Turkish papers to fold or be sold—often to hand-picked Erdoğan supporters. These attacks on press freedom have muzzled political discourse and dissent, contributing to Turkey’s status as an illiberal democracy.
The Voices from Turkey series will continue with forthcoming essays on economic growth, the showdown with Russia, relations with the European Union, refugee issues and foreign policy toward the Middle East released on a weekly basis.
Click here to read the essay.
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