Turkey ranked 154th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2020 press freedom index: report

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A man holds a placard reading "Free Press" during a demonstration for the World Press Freedom Day on the Istiklal avenue, in Istanbul, on May 3, 2017. According to the P24 press freedom website on April 4, 2017, there are 141 journalists behind bars in Turkey, most of whom were detained as part of the state of emergency imposed after the failed coup. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

Turkey has been ranked 154th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2020 World Press Freedom Index, up from 157th last year, according to the Bianet news website.

Censorship of websites and social media in the country “has reached unprecedented levels and the authorities are now trying to bring online video services under control,” RSF noted.

“Turkey’s military involvement in Libya and in Syria (along the border and in Idlib), and the migrant issue have expanded the range of topics that are subject to censorship and self-censorship and have increased use of the judicial system for political ends,” RSF says.

“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 their grip on what little is left of pluralism – a handful of media outlets that are being harassed and marginalized.”

“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.”

Most recently six journalists were jailed after covering the funeral of an intelligence officer killed in Libya on charges of exposing state secrets and endangering state officials.

Norway topped the RSF’s index for the fourth year in a row, while Finland was the runner-up. Denmark, up from fifth, was third and Sweden was fourth. On the other end of the index, North Korea took the last position from Turkmenistan, while Eritrea (178th) continued to be Africa’s worst-ranked country.

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