Turkey’s Lethal Freedom of the Press

Source: nsnbc. By Christof Lehmann

Amidst the recent crackdown on Turkish media and journalists, Prime Minister Ahmed Davotoglu assured that Turkey had a free press. nsnbc international’s records over recent years show that the AKP government’s record rather suggests an authoritarian and in fact lethal approach to controlling media, journalists and media coverage.

Turkey_Raid on Zaman_mediaThe court ruling earlier this week that rubber-stamped the government-takeover of the Feza Journalism media group is merely the latest development in the Turkish AKP government’s crackdown on any media and journalists that are non-compliant with policy guidelines dictated by the AKP and in fact personally, by President R. Tayyip Erdogan. But latest developments first.

Feza Journalism owns Zaman, Turkey’s largest-circulation newspaper and one of its top private news agencies. The seizure of the newspaper prompted crowds to gather outside Zahman’s headquarters in Istanbul to protect the journalists from eviction. Protests continue as of this day.

In October 2015 the AKP government seized Ipek Media upon criminal accusations. The media are linked to the network around Fetullah Gülen, who is living in self-imposed exile in the United States and whom high-ranking secular military officers have accused of being a CIA asset. Ironically, the US-based journal“Foreign Policy” should not miss out on criticizing the AKP government on that point.

Milliyet_Media_Turkey_ErdoganErdogan, the AKP and the Dark Side

In March 2014 nsnbc international published the audio of three clandestinely recorded phone conversations between the then Prime Minister R. Tayyip Erdogan and the owner of Miliyet, Erdogan Demiören.

Prime Minister Erdogan did not only intimidate the owner of Miliyet so much that he burst out in tears. He also prompted the 75-year-old newspaper owner to fire his staff and to censor “unacceptable media coverage.

(See video below and the article that including the audio and the full and translated transcript of the clandestinely recorded conversations HERE).

From Dark to Deep Black and Lethal

Serena Shim_PTV_TurkeyOctober 2014, two days after the US American journalist of Lebanese origin, Serena Shim, said that Turkish intelligence had accused her of spying, she died in a car crash. Her car collided with another vehicle when she was returning from an in situ report in Suruç, a rural district of Şanlıurfa Province of Turkey. Serena Shim covered the trafficking weapons to Islamist insurgents in Syria via Turkey. Her death and the accident have never been fully investigated as a possible crime.

In September 2012 Journalist Maya Naser was shot dead by a sniper in Damascus. The timing of the assassination indicates that Maya Naser may have been targeted because he came dangerously close to revealing serious war crimes of the Turkish government.

Maya Nasr, killed by a sniper, was investigating possible Turkish war crimes.

Maya Nasr, killed by a sniper, was investigating possible Turkish war crimes.

Maya Naser wrote, ”while I was covering the military operations in Aleppo, we saw the ID documents of 13 Turkish insurgents. When checking their identities we discovered that one of the fighters was the brother of the 2003 HSBC bomber from Istanbul”.” Such information”, Maya Naser wrote, ”led us to believe that the Turkish government is sending those convicted or under suspicion of being Al-Qaeda members to fight as insurgents in Syria”.

In subsequent, personal conversations between Maya Naser and the author of this article, he reiterated that there is further evidence that corroborates the suspicion that the government of Turkey is sending prisoners who have received a death sentence and those who serve life time sentences to Syria as an opportunity to be released from prison and as a chance to clear their record.

International lawyer Christopher Black responded to Maya Naser’s information, stating that if his information was correct, then the Turkish government is committing a war crime under the Rome Statute, which forbids forced service of non-combatants in war.

According to Christopher Black it would be possible to file a complaint with the ICC against Turkey and NATO if corroborating evidence could be produced, stating that if Turkey is involved in these crimes, then its partners are equally guilty. Two days later Maya Naser was shot by a sniper when he and his cameraman rushed to the scene of a double bomb attack in Damascus.

Further inquiries revealed that insurgents supported by Turkish special forces and intelligence were monitoring Maya Nasr’s Twitter feeds prior to the assassination. Further investigations by nsnbc international also revealed that the sniper team that assassinated Nasr was on location about two hours before the bomb blast that prompted Maya Nasr and his colleague Hossein Mortada to come to the scene of the bombing.

The developments in Turkey bring to mind the words of the renown author Albert Camus who wrote “A free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly, without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad”.

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