Erdogan has humor: Turkish president says press freedom crucial for nation

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday stressed the importance of press freedom and pluralism in a healthy society.

“We desire a freer and more pluralist Turkish press where all ideas are represented,” Erdogan said, addressing a journalism award ceremony in the capital Ankara.

He reiterated that international media deliberately does not cover the accomplishments of Turkey.

Erdogan also expressed sorrow over the death of Abdulkadir Nisanci, an Anadolu Agency [the official state agency run by the government] journalist, who died in an unfortunate event while he was on duty.

Erdogan wished God’s mercy on Nisanci and extended condolences to his family.

He condemned the embarrassing rumors shared on social media after the incident.

Nisanci was on a mission at Mt. Soganli in northeastern Turkey when he fell off a cliff on May 10 and died.

However, Erdogan wants to close his eyes to The witch-hunt waged by his government against its media critics, which has come to a head since an abortive coup in July 2016.

After the elimination of dozens of media outlets and the acquisition of Turkey’s biggest media group by a pro-government conglomerate, the authorities are tightening the vice on what little is left of pluralism – a handful of media outlets that are being harassed and marginalised.

Turkey is the world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists. Spending more than a year in prison before trial is the new norm, and long jail sentences are common, in some cases as long as life imprisonment with no possibility of a pardon.

Detained journalists and closed media outlets are denied any effective legal recourse. The rule of law is a fading memory in the “New Turkey” of paramount presidential authority. Censorship of websites and online social media has reached unprecedented levels and the authorities are now trying to bring online video services under control.