Turkey will never give up the freedom of the press, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday, in commemoration of Working Journalists’ Day.
“As Turkey, we will never give up freedom of the press, nor will we ever allow this concept to be exploited for black propaganda against our country inside and outside,” Erdoğan said in a statement released by the Presidential Directorate of Communications.
“I believe that our fair press and journalists have their part in strengthening the environment of peace, peace and trust in our country and that they will fulfill the duty of accurate information, taking into account the sensitivities of our nation, and continue to contribute to our democracy.”
Turkey ranks 154th out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index in 2020 by Reporters Without Borders, an international press watchdog which called the country “more authoritarian than ever”. The International Observatory of Human Rights has said that Turkey remains the worst jailer of journalists globally.
Members of the Turkish press media regularly face persecution for reporting on topics sensitive for the government or voicing opinions deemed unfavourable by state authorities.
On Sunday, Erdoğan also thanked members of the press for fulfilling their duties during Turkey’s COVID-19 outbreak
“I wish Allah’s mercy to the journalists who died in the line of duty. I wish all press employees success with these thoughts, and I salute them with the most heartfelt feelings,” he said.
A group of 11 international organisations advocating for press freedom, journalism and human rights said journalists in Turkey have been excluded from early release programmes Turkey implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic, facing grave risk to their health.