Censorship in Turkey

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2011 protests against internet censorship in Turkey

Censorship in Turkey is regulated by domestic and international legislation, the latter taking precedence over domestic law, according to Article 90 ("Ratification of International Treaties") of the Constitution (so amended in 2004).[1] Despite the protections presented in article 90, Turkey ranked 138 in the Reporters Without Borders' 2010 Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index.[2] In 2011-2012 Turkey ranked 148 out of 169 countries in the Reporters Without Borders list. In 2012 the Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) ranked Turkey as the worst journalist jailer in the world (ahead of Iran and China), with 49 journalists sitting in jail.[3] Twitter's 2014 Transparency Report showed that Turkey filed over five times more content removal requests to Twitter than any other country in the second half of 2014.[4] In the third quarter of 2015, Bianet recorded a strengthening of attacks on the opposition media during AKP interim government, with the censorship of 101 websites, 40 Twitter accounts, 178 news; attacks against 21 journalists, three media organs, and one printing house; civil pursuits against 28 journalists; and the six-fold increase of arrests of media representatives, with 24 journalists and 9 distributors imprisoned.

Within the framework of Turkey's negotiations with the European Union, the EU has requested that Turkey issue various legal reforms in order to improve freedom of expression and press.[when?]


Further information: Multi-party period of Turkey

Regional censorship predates the establishment of the Republic of Turkey. On 15 February 1857, the Ottoman Empire issued law governing printing houses ("Basmahane Nizamnamesi"); books first had to be shown to the governor, who forwarded them to commission for education ("Maarif Meclisi") and the police. If no objection was made, the Sultanate would then inspect them. Without censure from the Sultan books could not be legally issued.[5] On 24 July 1908, at the beginning of the Second Constitutional Era, censorship was lifted; however, newspapers publishing stories that were deemed a danger to interior or exterior State security were closed.[5] Between 1909 and 1913 four journalists were killed—Hasan Fehmi, Ahmet Samim, Zeki Bey, and Hasan Tahsin (Silahçı).[6]

Following the Turkish War of Independence, the Sheikh Said rebellion was used as pretext for implementing martial law ("Takrir-i Sükun Yasası") on March 4, 1925; newspapers, including Tevhid-i Efkar, Sebül Reşat, Aydınlık, Resimli Ay, and Vatan, were closed and several journalists arrested and tried at the Independence Courts.[5]

During World War II (1939–1945) many newspapers were ordered shut, including the dailies Cumhuriyet (5 times, for 5 months and 9 days), Tan (7 times, for 2 months and 13 days), and Vatan (9 times, for 7 months and 24 day).[5]

When the Democratic Party under Adnan Menderes came to power in 1950, censorship entered a new phase. The Press Law changed, sentences and fines were increased. Several newspapers were ordered shut, including the dailies Ulus (unlimited ban), Hürriyet, Tercüman, and Hergün (two weeks each). In April 1960, a so-called investigation commission ("Tahkikat Komisyonu") was established by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. It was given the power to confiscate publications, close papers and printing houses. Anyone not following the decisions of the commission were subject to imprisonment, between one and three years.[5]

Freedom of speech was heavily restricted after the 1980 military coup headed by General Kenan Evren. During the 1980s and 1990s, broaching the topics of secularism, minority rights (in particular the Kurdish issue), and the role of the military in politics risked reprisal.[7][7]

Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law (Law 3713), slightly amended in 1995 and later repealed,[8] imposed three-year prison sentences for "separatist propaganda." Despite its name, the Anti-Terror Law punished many non-violent offences.[7] Pacifists have been imprisoned under Article 8. For example, publisher Fatih Tas was prosecuted in 2002 under Article 8 at Istanbul State Security Court for translating and publishing writings by Noam Chomsky, summarizing the history of human rights violations in southeast Turkey; he was acquitted, however, in February 2002.[7] Prominent female publisher Ayse Nur Zarakolu, who was described by the New York Times as "[o]ne of the most relentless challengers to Turkey's press laws", was imprisoned under Article 8 four times.[9][10]

NTV broadcast van covered with protest graffiti during the 2013 protests in Turkey, in response to relative lack of coverage of mainstream media of the protests, 1 June 2013

Since 2011, the AKP government has increased restrictions on freedom of speech, freedom of the press and internet use,[11] and television content,[12] as well as the right to free assembly.[13] It has also developed links with media groups, and used administrative and legal measures (including, in one case, a $2.5 billion tax fine) against critical media groups and critical journalists: "over the last decade the AKP has built an informal, powerful, coalition of party-affiliated businessmen and media outlets whose livelihoods depend on the political order that Erdogan is constructing. Those who resist do so at their own risk."[14]

Turkey’s Journalists Union estimated that at least "72 journalists had been fired or forced to take leave or had resigned in the past six weeks since the start of the unrest" in late May 2013 due to pressure from the AKP government. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi (CHP) party, said 64 journalists have been imprisoned and “We are now facing a new period where the media is controlled by the government and the police and where most media bosses take orders from political authorities.” The government says most of the imprisoned journalists have been detained for serious crimes, like membership in an armed terrorist group, that are not related to journalism.[15][16]

Bianet's periodical reports on freedom of the press in Turkey recorded a strengthening of attacks on the opposition media during the AKP interim government in the third quarter of 2015. Bianet recorded the censorship of 101 websites, 40 Twitter accounts, 178 news; attacks against 21 journalists, three media organs, and one printing house; civil pursuits against 28 journalists; and the six-fold increase of arrests of media representatives, with 24 journalists and 9 distributors imprisoned.[17] The increased criminalisation of the media follows the freezing of the Kurdish peace process and the failure of AKP to obtain an outright majority at the June 2015 election and to achieve the presidentialisation of the polytical system. Several journalists and editors are tried for being allegedly members of unlawful organisations, linked to either Kurds or the Gülen movement, others for alleged insults to religion and to the President. Cumhuriyet daily and Doğan Holding are investigated for "terror", "espionage" and "insult". 61 people, of whom 37 journalists, are convict, defendant or suspect for having insulted or personally attacked the then-PM, now-President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The ECtHR condemned Turkey for violation of the freedom of expression in the Abdurrahman Dilipak case (Sledgehammer investigation),[18][19] and the Turkish Constitutional Court upheld the violation of the freedom of expression of five persons, including a journalist. RTÜK could not yet choose its President; it still warned companies five times and fined them six times. The Supreme Electoral Council ordered 65 channels twice to stop broadcasting the results of the June 2015 election before the end of the publishing ban.


Expressions of non-violent opinion are safeguarded by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, ratified by Turkey in 1954, and various provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, signed by Turkey in 2000.[7] Many Turkish citizens convicted under the laws mentioned below have applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and won their cases.[7]

Beside the Article 301, amended in 2008, and Article 312, more than 300 provisions constrained freedom of expression, religion, and association, according to the Turkish Human Rights Association (2002).[7] Many of the repressive provisions found in the Press Law, the Political Parties Law, the Trade Union Law, the Law on Associations, and other legislation were imposed by the military junta after its coup in 1980.

Article 301[edit]

Article 301 is a provision in the Turkish penal code that, between June 2005 and April 2008, made it a punishable offense to insult Turkishness or various official Turkish institutions. It was amended on 30 April 2008, including changing "Turkishness" into "the Turkish nation" and making it obligatory to get the approval of the Minister of Justice before filing a case.[20][21] Before the article was amended, charges were brought in more than 60 cases, some of which were high-profile.[22]

Novelist Orhan Pamuk, at the time a Nobel Prize candidate, was prosecuted under Article 301 for discussing the Armenian Genocide; Pamuk subsequently won the prize. Perihan Mağden, a columnist for the newspaper Radikal, was tried under the article for provocation, and acquitted on July 27, 2006; Mağden had broached the topic of conscientious objection to mandatory military service as an abuse of human rights.[23][24][25]

Article 312[edit]

Article 312 of the criminal code imposes three-year prison sentences for incitement to commit an offence and incitement to religious or racial hatred. In 1999 the mayor of Istanbul and current prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was sentenced to 10 months' imprisonment under Article 312 for reading a few lines from a poem that had been authorized by the Ministry of Education for use in schools, and consequently had to resign.[7] In 2000 the chairman of the Human Rights Association, Akin Birdal, was imprisoned under Article 312 for a speech in which he called for "peace and understanding" between Kurds and Turks,[7] and thereafter forced to resign, as the Law on Associations forbids persons who breach this and several other laws from serving as association officials.[7] On February 6, 2002, a "mini-democracy package" was voted by Parliament, altering wording of Art. 312. Under the revised text, incitement can only be punished if it presents "a possible threat to public order."[7] The package also reduced the prison sentences for Article 159 of the criminal code from a maximum of six years to three years. None of the other laws had been amended or repealed as of 2002.[7]


Article 81 of the Political Parties Law (imposed by the military junta in 1982) forbids parties from using any language other than Turkish in their written material or at any formal or public meetings. This law is strictly enforced.[7][better source needed] Kurdish deputy Leyla Zana was jailed in 1994, ostensibly for membership to the PKK.

Constitutional amendments adopted in October 2001 removed mention of "language forbidden by law" from legal provisions concerning free expression. Thereafter, university students began a campaign for optional courses in Kurdish to be put on the university curriculum, triggering more than 1,000 detentions throughout Turkey during December and January 2002.[7] Actions have also been taken against the Laz minority.[7] According to the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, Turkey only recognizes the language rights of the Jewish, Greek and Armenian minorities.[7] The government ignores Article 39(4) of the Treaty of Lausanne, which states that: "[n]o restrictions shall be imposed on the free use by any Turkish national of any language in private intercourse, in commerce, religion, in the press or in publications of any kind or at public meetings."[7][better source needed]

In 1991, laws outlawing communist (Articles 141 and 142 of the criminal code) and Islamic fundamentalist ideas (Article 163 of the criminal code) were repealed.[7] This package of legal changes substantially freed up expression of leftist thought, but simultaneously created a new offence of "separatist propaganda" under Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law.[7] Prosecutors also began to use Article 312 of the criminal code (on religious or racial hatred) in place of Article 163.[7]

Pressured by the EU, Turkey has promised to review the Broadcasting Law.[7] State agency RTÜK continues to impose a large number of closure orders on TV and radio stations on the grounds that they have made separatist broadcasts.[7] In August 2001, RTÜK banned the BBC World Service and the Deutsche Welle on the grounds that their broadcasts "threatened national security."[7] A ban on broadcasting in Kurdish was lifted with certain qualifications in 2001 and 2002.[26] Other legal changes in August 2002 allowed for the teaching of languages, including Kurdish.[26] However, limitations on Kurdish broadcasting continue to be strong: according to the EU Commission (2006), "time restrictions apply, with the exception of films and music programmes.[better source needed] All broadcasts, except songs, must be subtitled or translated in Turkish, which makes live broadcasts technically cumbersome. Educational programmes teaching the Kurdish language are not allowed. The Turkish Public Television (TRT) has continued broadcasting in five languages including Kurdish. However, the duration and scope of TRT's national broadcasts in five languages is very limited. No private broadcaster at national level has applied for broadcasting in languages other than Turkish since the enactment of the 2004 legislation."[27][better source needed] TRT broadcasts in Kurdish (as well as in Arab and Circassian dialect) are symbolic,[28][better source needed] compared to satellite broadcasts by channels such as controversial Roj TV, based in Denmark.

Self-censorship of major media outlets[edit]

Major media outlets in Turkey belong to certain group of influential businessman or holdings. In nearly all cases, these holding companies earn only a small fraction of their revenue from their media outlets, with the bulk of profits coming from other interests, such as construction, mining, finance, or energy.[29] Therefore, media groups usually practice self-censorship to protect their wider business interests.

In addition to the censorship practiced by pro-government media such as Sabah, Yeni Şafak, and Star, the majority of other newspapers, such as Sözcü, Zaman, Milliyet, and Radikal have been reported as practicing self-censorship to protect their business interests and using the market share (65% of the total newspapers sold daily in Turkey as opposed to pro-government media[30]) to avoid retaliatory action by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.[31]

Internet censorship[edit]

The Turkish government has implemented legal and institutional reforms driven by the country’s ambitions to become a European Union member state, while at the same time demonstrating its high sensitivity to defamation and other "inappropriate" online content, which has resulted in the closure of a number of local and international Web sites. All Internet traffic passes through Turk Telecom’s infrastructure, allowing centralized control over online content and facilitating the implementation of shutdown decisions.

In December 2010 the OpenNet Initiative, a non-partisan organization based in Canada and the United States that investigates, analyzes, and exposes Internet filtering and surveillance practices, classified Internet censorship in Turkey as selective (third lowest of four classifications) in the political, social, and Internet tools areas and found no evidence of censorship in the conflict/security area.[32]

In 2010 Reporters Without Borders, an international censorship watchdog organization, added Turkey to its list of 16 countries "under surveillance" (the less serious of two Internet censorship lists that it maintains), saying:

The year 2010 was marked by the widely covered deblocking of the video-sharing website YouTube which, unfortunately, did not equate to a lifting of online censorship in Turkey. In a country where taboo topics abound, several thousand websites are still inaccessible and legal proceedings against online journalists persist.[33]

In July 2010 the Alternative Informatics Association organized one of the first and largest street protests against Internet censorship in Istanbul. A second protest took place in May 2011 with demonstrations in 30 cities in Turkey.[34]

In its Freedom on the Net 2013 report, Freedom House gave Turkey a "freedom on the net status" of "partly free" (the middle of three categories: "free", "partly free", and "not free"), saying that:[35]

In its Freedom on the Net 2015 report, Freedom House gave Turkey a "freedom on the net status" of "partly free".[36]

On 20 March 2014, access to Twitter was blocked when a court ordered that "protection measures" be applied to the service. This followed earlier remarks by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan who vowed to "wipe out Twitter" following damaging allegations of corruption in his inner circle.[37][38]


On 5 February 2014 the Turkish Parliament adopted a controversial new Internet law to promote Internet regulation in Turkey that:[39]

  • allows the telecommunications authority (TIB) to block any website within 4 hours without first seeking a court ruling; and
  • requires Internet providers to store all data on web users' activities for two years and make it available to the authorities upon request.

Crimes committed via the Internet are regulated by the older law, number 5651.[40]

Beside the older media control and censorship association, RTÜK, a new governmental association, Telecommunication and Transmission Authority, can impose bans on Internet sites without prior judicial approval, (i) if the offending Web site hosts content that is illegal under Turkish law and is hosted outside Turkey, or (ii) a Web site contains sexual abuse of children or obscenity and its host resides in Turkey.[32] The law prohibits:

  • crimes against Atatürk (Article 8/b),
  • offering or promoting prostitution,
  • providing place and opportunity for gambling,
  • unauthorized online gambling and betting,
  • sexual abuse of children,
  • encouraging suicide,
  • supplying drugs that are dangerous for health, and
  • facilitation of the abuse of drugs.

Web sites are also blocked for the following reasons:

  • downloading of MP3 and movies in violation of copyright laws,
  • insults against state organs and private persons
  • crimes related to terrorism
  • violation of trademark regulations
  • unfair trade regulated under the Turkish Commercial Code
  • violation of Articles 24, 25, 26, and 28 of the Constitution (freedoms of religion, expression, thought, and freedom of press).

The Turkish Telecommute Foundation has a website for public reports.[41] Decisions to block a web site can be appealed, but usually only after a site has been blocked. Nevertheless, due to the public profile of the major websites banned and the lack of juridical, technical, or ethical arguments to justify the censorship, the blocked sites are often available using proxies or by changing DNS servers.

Blocking of Internet sites[edit]

The notification used by TİB explaining why the particular website is blocked.

Web sites are blocked for intellectual property infringement, particularly file-sharing and streaming sites; for providing access to material that shows or promotes the sexual exploitation and abuse of children, obscenity, prostitution, or gambling; for insults to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding father of modern Turkey; for reporting news on southeastern Turkey and Kurdish issues; or which defame individuals. In addition to widespread filtering, state authorities are proactive in requesting the deletion or removal of content online.[35]

  • On 7 March 2007, Turkish courts imposed a ban on YouTube.com due to a speculative video that intentionally insulted Atatürk, a hero of WWI and the founder of modern Turkey. Before the judgement, the court asked YouTube to remove the video completely, but they refused, saying they could only make it invisible for the Turkish people.[42] a violation of article 8, dating back to 1951.[43] Two days later the ban was briefly lifted, then reinstated.[44]
  • By August 2008 hundreds of sites are temporarily blocked on similar grounds.[45][46] According to an August 2008 Milliyet article, 11494 complaints (mostly on grounds of indecency) have resulted in 853 motions to block.[47]
  • By mid-2008 growing discontent with the blocks resulted in a grass roots protest campaign organized by the Web site elmaaltshift.com, which encouraged Web sites to replace their home page with an interstitial webpage titled "Access To This Site Is Denied By Its Own Decision."[45]
  • An October 2008 article in Radikal raised the number of blocked sites to 1112.[48] YouTube's parent, Google, decided to selectively prevent access to the offending videos to users in Turkey in order to prevent the entire site from being blocked. Turkish prosecutors, not content, demanded a global block in order not to offend Turkish users abroad. Google did not comply.[49]
  • In September 2008, Richard Dawkins' site, richarddawkins.net, was banned in Turkey as a result of complaints by Islamic creationist Adnan Oktar that his book Atlas of Creation, which contests the theory of evolution, had been defamed on Dawkins' website.[50]
  • In October 2008 the Turkish Minister of Transport Binali Yıldırım defended the bans, saying "Practices are needed to protect young people and the public at large from harmful material online."[51] The newspaper Taraf said that the persistent banning of Web sites can be attributed to judges inexperience in dealing with the Internet.[52]
  • In October 2008, the courts banned the Blogger (service), including the Blogspot.com domain[53] after Lig TV (whose parent company is Digiturk) complained of copyright violation.[54] This ban was lifted after a few hours.
  • In November 2008, the courts banned the "Rojname - Kurdish news search engine", including the www.rojname.com domain[55]
  • As of December 2008, after prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan encouraged people to work around the YouTube block, its number of visitors doubled making it the fifth-most visited Web site, according to Alexa.com.[56]
  • As of June 2010, beside YouTube, more than 8000 major and minor websites were banned, most of them pornographic and mp3 sharing sites.[57] Other prominent websites banned include YouPorn, Mrstiff, The Pirate Bay, Megaupload, Deezer, Tagged, Slide and ShoutCast. The Internet Movie Database has escaped being censored due to a misspelling of its domain, resulting in a futile ban on www.imbd.com.[58]
  • In 2010, the video sharing site Metacafe was banned by the Telecommunications Communication Presidency (TİB)[59] of Turkey after the posting of an alleged scandalous video of the former CHP leader Deniz Baykal.
  • During June 2010 Turkey's president Abdullah Gül used his Twitter account to express disapproval of the country's ban on YouTube and Google services. Gül said he had instructed officials to find legal ways of allowing access.[60]
  • Between July 2010 and October 2010, Turkey's ban of YouTube was expanded to a range of IP addresses offering services by YouTube's parent Google, including those of Google Docs, Google Translate, Google Books, Google Analytics, and Google Tools.[61]
  • Since September 2010, Kliptube has been blocked.[62]
  • In early September 2010, the online music search engine Grooveshark was banned by Turkish courts due to copyright violations.[63]
  • In October 2010, the ban of YouTube was lifted. But a range of IP addresses used by Google remained blocked, thus access to Google Apps hosted sites, including all Google App Engine powered sites and some of the Google services, remained blocked.[citation needed]
  • On January 1, 2011[verification needed], Turkish courts banned Wix.com, a popular site builder owned by an Israeli company. The ban was later lifted at least from Turk Telekunikasyon A.S.[64][65]
  • On January 28, 2011, the popular imageboard 4chan was blocked.[66]
  • Beginning 2 March 2011 access to Blogspot was blocked, following a request by satellite television provider Digiturk; Digiturk alleged Blogger was being used to distribute material it holds the broadcast rights to.[67]
  • On 27 May 2011, popular file sharing services Rapidshare.com and Fileserve.com were blocked.[68]
  • On 22 August 2011, under new regulations announced on 22 February 2011, the Information Technologies Board (BTK), an offshoot of the prime minister’s office, will allow all ISP users to select one of four levels of content filtering (family, children, domestic, or standard). However having no content filter chosen exactly equals to standard filter in terms of websites blocked.[69]
  • On 21 October 2011, the media streaming service Livestream was blocked by the Turkish Republic.[70] Later in June 2012 or earlier, the block was lifted.[71][verification needed]
  • Between January and June 2012 the number of content removal requests that Google received from Turkey increased by 1,013 percent compared to the previous six-month reporting period, according to the company's transparency reports.[35]
  • On 9 March 2012, Pastebin began being blocked by the Turkish Republic.[72] Later in June 2012 or earlier, the block was lifted but then reinstated.[71][verification needed]
  • In October 2012 sport streaming website http://atdhe.tw was blocked in Turkey.[73]
  • In the spring of 2013, there was an ongoing block of https://wikileaks.org/.[citation needed]
  • In January 2014, IP blocks of Level 3 Communications' Content delivery network were blocked, resulting in up to 20% of all requests to that CDN failing.[74]
  • On 24 January 2014, access to SoundCloud website became forbidden by the Turkish government.[75][76][77][78] A user named "haramzadeler" ("illegal ones" in Turkish) uploaded a total of 7 illegally recorded phone call tapes which claim to reveal private conversations between Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (the Turkish Prime Minister) and others, including: Erdoğan Bayraktar, local politicians, some businessmen, PM's daughter Sümeyye Erdoğan and his son Bilal Erdoğan.
  • On 20 March 2014, access to Twitter was blocked when a court ordered that "protection measures" be applied to the service. This followed earlier remarks by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan who vowed to "wipe out Twitter" following damaging allegations of corruption in his inner circle.[37][38] Google Public DNS was also blocked after it was prominently used to bypass the ban.[79]
  • On 27 March 2014, access to YouTube was blocked country-wide a day after it carried a leaked National Security meeting conversation that seemingly revealed Head of Turkish Intelligence Hakan Fidan, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, and others, plotting "false flag" operations in Syria. Erdoğan described the leak as "villainous"; Davutoğlu called it "a cyber attack against the Turkish Republic" and "a declaration of war against the Turkish state and our nation".[80] YouTube was unblocked on June 3, 2014 after a court ruling.[81]
  • In November 2014, it was found out that Turkish Wikipedia entries for Vagina, Human penis, Scrotum and Vulva have been censored only by main service provider TTNET.[82]
  • On 6 April 2015, Turkey blocked access to Twitter, YouTube and Facebook after images of a prosecutor held hostage by far-left DHKP-C militants with a gun held at his head were posted. The prosecutor was later killed in the crisis. Facebook quickly complied with the court's decision and removed the content, resulting in the removal of the block for the website.[83]
  • On 17 April 2015, Turkey briefly blocked access to the URL shortening service Bitly. Instead of being redirected to the full URL, users following a link to the domain bit.ly were served a page stating (in Turkish) that "this internet site (bit.ly) is placed under administrative measures by the Telecommunication Authority". The blocking was an application of the new Internet regulation law, under which the Telecommunication Authority no longer has to seek court approval before blocking a whole site. No reason for the blocking was provided. Officials of the Telecommunication Authority stated later that the blocking had been due to a "technical error".[84]

As of 20 April 2015, the list of blocked Internet sites maintained by the monitoring website Engelli Web contains over 78,000 domain names.[85]

Broadcast media[edit]

E2 television channel replaces tobacco products with a flower in order to avoid RTÜK fines.
See also: Media of Turkey


In television broadcasts, scenes displaying nudity, consumption of alcohol, smoking, drug usage and violence are commonly censored by blurring out respective areas.[86] TV channels also practice self-censorship of subtitles in order to avoid heavy RTÜK fines. For example, CNBC-e channel usually translates the word “gay” as “marginal“.[87]

Particular incidents[edit]

Cover of "Yaşarken Yazılan Tarih", which led to the closure of NTV History magazine by its administration

Deportation of foreign journalists[edit]

In September 2015, Turkey deported three foreign journalists in Diyarbakır, who were reporting on Turkey's Kurdish issue. Two British Vice News journalists, reporter Jake Hanrahan and photojournalist Philip Pendlebury, were detained on 27 August and then deported on 2 September. Mohammed Ismael Rasool, a Turkish citizen who was with the British team as a fixer, was detained, questioned and faced further legal repercussions. They were reporting on the Turkish government's conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).[88] One week later, Dutch journalist Fréderike Geerdink, who was known for being the only foreign reporter based in Diyarbakır and focusing on Kurdish issues, was deported by Turkish authorities following her second arrest in 2015.[89] Geerdink, a freelance reporter whose contributions appeared regularly in Dikan, had written a book about the Turkish strike that resulted in the Roboski massacre of Kurds, which was published in 2014 but released in English in 2015.[90]

The New York Times[edit]

An editorial criticizing press censorship published May 22, 2015[91] and inclusion of Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as one of a rising class of "soft" dictators in an op-ed published in May 2015 in The New York Times[92] resulted in a strong reaction by Erdogan.[93]

Leaked phone calls between Erdoğan and media executives[edit]

During the period before the Turkish local elections of 2014, a number of phone calls between prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and media executives were leaked to the internet.[94] Most of the recordings were between Edoğan and Habertürk newspaper & TV channel executive Fatih Saraç. In those recordings, it can be heard that Erdoğan was calling Fatih Saraç when he was unhappy about a news item published in the newspaper or broadcast on TV. He was demanding Fatih Saraç to be careful next time or censor any particular topics he is not happy about.[95] At another leaked call, Erdoğan gets very upset and angry over a news published at Milliyet newspaper and reacts harshly to Erdoğan Demirören, owner of the newspaper. Later, it can be heard that Demirören is reduced to tears.[96] During a call between Erdoğan and editor-in-chief of Star daily Mustafa Karaalioğlu, Erdoğan lashes out at Karaalioğlu for allowing Mehmet Altan to continue writing such critical opinions about a speech the prime minister had delivered recently. In the second conversation, Erdoğan is heard grilling Karaalioğlu over his insistence on keeping Hidayet Şefkatli Tuksal, a female columnist in the paper despite her critical expressions about him.[97] Later, both Altan and Tuksal got fired from Star newspaper. Erdoğan acknowledged that he called media executives.[98]

Censorship during Gezi Park protests (2013)[edit]

Foreign media noted that, particularly in the early days (31 May – 2 June 2013), the protests attracted relatively little mainstream media coverage in Turkey, due to either government pressure on media groups' business interests or simply ideological sympathy by media outlets.[22][99] The BBC noted that while some outlets are aligned with the AKP or are personally close to Erdoğan, "most mainstream media outlets – such as TV news channels HaberTurk and NTV, and the major centrist daily Milliyet – are loathe to irritate the government because their owners' business interests at times rely on government support. All of these have tended to steer clear of covering the demonstrations."[99] Ulusal Kanal and Halk TV provided extensive live coverage from Gezi park.[100]

Editor of Taraf (2009)[edit]

In January 2009 Adnan Demir, editor of the provocative newspaper Taraf, was charged with divulging secret military information, under Article 336 of the Turkish Criminal Code.[101] He was accused of having published an article in October 2008 that alleged police and military had been warned of an imminent PKK attack that same month, an attack which resulted in the death of 13 soldiers.[101] Demir faces up to 5 years of prison.[101] On 29 December 2009 İstanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 13 acquitted Adnan Demir.[102]

Media Markt advertisement scandal in Eskişehir[edit]

Eskişehir’s Turkish Union Association motivated suspension of an advertisement campaign by Media Markt that the group claimed “insult Turkishness” by depicting consumers with animal heads goose -a cow, a carp and a sheep, each chosen for its implication of foolishness- that purchased overpriced merchandise. In the advertisements they used sentences such as "Am I a sheep?" "Am I bird-brained?" (Common insults in Turkish).[103]

Valley of the Wolves: Terror[edit]

Early in 2007, the Turkish government banned a popular television series called Valley of the Wolves, citing the show's violent themes. The TV show inspired a Turkish-made movie by the same name, which included American actor Gary Busey. Busey played an American doctor who removed organs from Iraqi prisoners at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison and sold the harvested organs on the black market. The movie was pulled from theaters in the United States after the Anti-Defamation League complained to the Turkish ambassador to the U.S. about the movie's portrayal of Jews.[104]

Nokta magazine[edit]

The headquarters of Nokta, an investigative magazine which has since been closed because of military pressures, were searched by police in April 2007, following the publication of articles examining alleged links between the Office of the Chief of Staff and some NGOs, and questioning the military's connection to officially civilian anti-government rallies.[105][106] The magazine also gave details on military blacklistings of journalists, as well as two plans for a military coup, by retired generals, aiming to overthrow the AK Party government in 2004.[107] Nokta had also revealed military accreditations for press organs, deciding to whom the military should provide information.[108]

Alper Görmüş, editor of Nokta, was charged with insult and libel (under articles 267 and 125 of the Turkish Penal Code, TPC), and faced a possible prison sentence of over six years, for publishing the excerpts of the alleged journal of Naval Commander Örnek in the magazine’s March 29, 2007 issue.[105] Nokta journalist Ahmet Şık and defense expert journalist Lale Sarıibrahimoğlu were also indicted on May 7, 2007 under Article 301 for "insulting the armed forces" in connection with an interview Şık conducted with Sarıibrahimoğlu.[105]

Michael Dickinson[edit]

In June 2006, police seized a collage by British artist Michael Dickinson — which showed the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as a dog being given a rosette by President Bush — and told him he would be prosecuted. Charles Thomson, leader of the Stuckism movement, of which Dickinson is a member, wrote to then UK prime minister, Tony Blair in protest. The Times commented: "The case could greatly embarrass Turkey and Britain, for it raises questions about Turkey’s human rights record as it seeks EU membership, with Tony Blair’s backing."[109] The prosecutor declined to present a case, until Dickinson then displayed another similar collage outside the court. He was then held for ten days[110] and told he would be prosecuted[111] for "insulting the Prime Minister's dignity".[112] In September 2008, he was acquitted, the judge ruling that "insulting elements" were "within the limits of criticism".[113] Dickinson said, "I am lucky to be acquitted. There are still artists in Turkey facing prosecution and being sentenced for their opinions."[113]

Pop singer Sultana[edit]

In 2000, television channels were instructed that they would be suspended for a day if they aired the music video for ‘Kuşu Kalkmaz’, a single from Sultana’s debut album ‘Çerkez Kızı’.[114]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]