Erdogan’s re-election is worrying news for journalists – but his actions are part of a wider trend

 In U.S.

The re-election of Recep Erdogan to Turkey’s presidency is bad news for Turkey – and for anyone who cares about press freedom. Under Mr Erdogan’s rule, Turkey has become the biggest jailer of journalists in the world; as a result it has plummeted down world press freedom indices.

It would be wrong to argue – as some of his supporters do – that Mr Erdogan has been forced to clamp down on opposition voices in the media in response to the attempted military coup of 2016. It is plain that he has been seeking to silence critical commentary for much longer. In the 18 months after he was first elected president in 2014, there were more than 1,800 prosecutions against people, including journalists, who were alleged to have insulted him.

In April 2016, three months before the coup, he even sought the prosecution of a TV presenter in Germany who he claimed had offended him. The German law cited by Mr Erdogan was so antiquated that many German lawyers had not heard of it. Shortly afterwards, a Dutch journalist who had been critical of the president, in an article published in the Netherlands, was arrested while on holiday in Turkey.

While it is true that media freedoms have been curtailed more stringently since the attempted uprising, it is hardly a new departure. For Mr Erdogan, dissent is akin to an assault on Turkish national interests. Under the guide of maintaining Turkey’s democracy, he is slowly dismantling the checks and balances that are integral to it. This weekend’s electoral victory, which triggers changes to the constitution approved narrowly in last year’s referendum, will concentrate authority in Mr Erdogan’s hands even further.

Get Breaking News Delivered to Your Inbox
Join over 2.3 million subscribers. Get daily breaking news directly to your inbox as they happen.
Your Information will never be shared with any third party.
Get Latest News in Facebook
Never miss another breaking news. Click on the "LIKE" button below now!