European Court Presses Erdogan on Free Speech

For full article: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/07/eu-pressures-turkey-on-free-speech.html?utm_source&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=7859#ixzz2aAVCOQwU

by Orhan Kemal Cengiz

A few weeks ago, the media reported that the Sabah newspaper censored the articles of its ombudsman Yavuz Baydar — also an Al-Monitor contributor — in which he criticized his newspaper for ignoring the Gezi Park anti-government protests.

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The Turkish government’s interventions are not limited to ensuring that authors of unpleasant writing are shown to the door. A government agency, the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF), has seized publicly indebted media entities and sold them off to companies close to the government. Earlier this month, the TMSF sold the Sky360 television channel and the Aksam newspaper to the Kolin-Limak-Cengiz consortium, without holding any public tender or auction. The same consortium had been awarded the project to build a third bridge over the Bosporus. The TV station and the newspaper were handed to the consortium virtually as the bonus of the bridge contract.

Yet more was to come, and did last week. The former editor-in-chief of the Taraf newspaper, Ahmet Altan, was sentenced to 11 months in prison for insulting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, after being sued by the prime minister himself.

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The criminal and libel cases that the prime minister brings against journalists pose a major problem on their own.

……In the case of journalist Erbil Tusalp last year, the ECHR issued a judgment that could perhaps invalidate all of the prime minister’s libel cases. The ECHR condemned Turkey over Tusalp’s conviction, ruling that politicians should tolerate stronger degrees of criticism than ordinary individuals and that Tusalp’s criticism of Erdogan and the government did not amount to insult and fell within the limits of freedom of expression.

 

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