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Turkey Targets Press Freedom

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Turkey Targets Press Freedom

by Stephen Lendman

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Turkey is more police state than democracy.

No country imprisons more journalists than Turkey. Ragip Zarakolu understands well. He's a prominent human rights activist/publisher. He's a former Nobel Peace Prize nominee. He's been maliciously targeted for years.

In 1998, he won the International Publishers Association (IPA) International Freedom to Publish Award. He couldn't attend the Frankfurt ceremony. Authorities confiscated his passport. 

In 2003, he received the NOVIB/PEN Free Expression Award. In 2008, IPA gave him a second Freedom to Publish Award.

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In March 2012, he was imprisoned. He was targeted after receiving the Assyrian Culture Centre's Assyrian Cultural Award. It honored his human and minority rights advocacy.

He's been wrongly charged with state crimes more than 70 times. He faces 15 years in prison if convicted of current terrorist-related ones. His trial begins in April.

He's one of thousands of journalists, lawyers, activists, and others accused of belonging to or aiding and abetting the Kurdistan-based Union of Communities. Turkey conflates it with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Zarakolu calls charges against him "state terrorism." Turkey is part totalitarian, he says. Authorities target journalists and intellectuals urging "Kurdish question" solutions.

An atmosphere of fear prevails. Widespread arrests follow. No one's safe.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) calls itself "an independent nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide."

It reported on "Turkey's Press Freedom Crisis: The Dark Days of Jailing Journalists and Criminalizing Dissent."

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"(A)uthorities are waging one of the world's biggest anti-press campaigns in recent history," it said.

"Dozens of writers and editors are in prison, nearly all on terrorism or other anti-state charges. The evidence against them? Their journalism."

Turkey's press freedom "reached a crisis point." Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan imprisons journalists "on a mass scale."

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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