One-third of all journalists jailed worldwide sit in the prisons of Turkey’s Islamist autocrat, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
So it’s startling that the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has opened up its opinion page to him today.
— WSJ Editorial Page (@WSJopinion) September 11, 2018
Remarkably, this comes after Turkey imprisoned WSJ reporter Dion Nissenbaum for two and a half days in December 2016, refusing to allow him to contact his colleagues or his family and later deporting him.
Then in October 2017, the Turkish regime convicted WSJ reporter Ayla Albayrak in absentia on charges of publishing “terrorist propaganda.”
And just today the Erdogan regime arrested another Western journalist:
According to his employers, Austrian journalist Max Zirngast was detained by security forces in Turkey on Tuesday morning, likely because of his "political publications."https://t.co/Qaobe0mkQz
— DW News (@dwnews) September 11, 2018
Today’s Erdogan op-ed follows another New York Times op-ed by the Turkish dictator just a month ago — published on the same day the NYT editorial board questioned whether Turkey was still an American ally:
From the Editorial Board: Is Turkey still an American ally? Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule and the regional unrest caused by the Syrian conflict have tested this bond. https://t.co/KyBfY74kkM
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) August 11, 2018
The bizarre love affair of the American corporate media continues as 169 journalists sit in Turkish prisons:
169 journalists arrested, 147 journalists wanted, 68 journalists convicted by Erdoğan regime in Turkey.
Please see the SCF's updated list of journalists, who are under oppression, in a searchable format: https://t.co/C2mGT3Mtld
— SCF (@StockholmCF) September 9, 2018
This has earned Turkey the title of the world’s largest jailer of journalists:
Turkey is the world’s biggest jailer of journalists, with over 100 currently behind bars. Mr Erdogan seems determined to keep it that way https://t.co/NTLNlYok7r
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) March 4, 2018
But Erdogan has not been content with just jailing journalists.
Since the so-called “coup” attempt in July 2016, Erdogan associates have taken over many of Turkey’s newspapers.
Just last week one of the few remaining independent newspapers, Cumhuriyet, had a new board installed, which promptly sacked the editor-in-chief and prompted the resignations of more than a dozen of its reporters.
On Friday 7th the newspaper Cumhuriyet's foundation was taken over leading to firing of staff and editor-in-chief, plus changes to their editorial line. This marks the end of one of Turkey's last free newspapers, reducing the number arguably to 2 https://t.co/dSpaRRd2Fk pic.twitter.com/T6eWXFQOGc
— Debbie Luxon (@DebLuxon) September 10, 2018
And Erdogan doesn’t hesitate to show his contempt for media criticism, such as comments he made just two weeks ago:
#Erdogan says he has come so far by battling against the media outlets that use headlines as "mortar shells" and columns as "bullets". (This is the mindset that puts 240 journalists behind bars in #Turkey as of today). pic.twitter.com/ZseMQbdUoB
— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) August 30, 2018
When called out by the international media for jailing journalists, he’s defended his actions by saying that they’re not journalists but terrorists:
President Erdogan is asked by @mattfrei about numbers of journalists imprisoned in Turkey. He says, “Your sources are not healthy. The terrorists will not make good journalists." pic.twitter.com/97b5YjRq2e
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) May 15, 2018
Not content to limit his attacks on the media to just Turkey, Erdogan’s regime has used a number of avenues to attack journalists abroad.
Just a few days ago Gissur Simonarson was notified by Twitter that one of his tweets reporting on the attacks by Turkish troops operating inside Syria had been proscribed by Turkish courts:
Just got an e-mailed from @twitter about a Turkish court order that mentions an old tweet from January about the Afrin assault.
Twitter really needs to stop taking legal complaints from Turkey. pic.twitter.com/AcWnrDVDGb
— Gissur Simonarson 🇮🇸🏴 (@GissiSim) September 7, 2018
Turkish hackers have also targeted American media personalities, in some cases hijacking their Twitter accounts:
This morning, Pro-Erdoğan Turkish hackers hacked into the Twitter accounts of NBC reporters @PeterAlexander and @kwelkernbc. The same hackers hacked the Twitter accounts of Greta Van Susteren, Eric Bolling, Brit Hume, among many others, in the past. pic.twitter.com/49XZMTxb56
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) August 12, 2018
It was reported this past January that social media death threats targeting Belgian journalists had come from IP addresses assigned to the Turkish embassy in Brussels.
What explains the ongoing love affair between the American media and dictators around the world? What would compel a media outlet to give space or airtime to a brutal dictator who holds one-third of all journalists jailed worldwide in his prisons?
That’s a good question for the editors at the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.