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MOSCOW, February 5. /TASS/. Media in Turkey are under increasing pressure from authorities, while persecution and arrests of journalists continue, Russian Foreign Ministry’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and Supremacy of Law Konstantin Dolgov told TASS on Friday.
"Media’s freedom of expression and activities is under growing pressure from Turkish authorities," Dolgov said. "Human rights activists note the atmosphere of intimidation in this sphere that leads to increasing number of flagrant violations of human rights. They are especially concerned about continuing and new cases of persecution and arrests of journalists that publish materials critical of the president and government," he noted.
"According to Turkey’s leading opposition Republican People’s Party, investigations under different pretexts were launched in 2015 against seven media corporations. A total of 156 journalists were detained, 32 were arrested," the commissioner added. "It was reported that in 2015, 774 journalists were fired for political reasons, and legal proceedings were started against 238 of them," he went on.
Among the most controversial cases was the arrest of editor-in-chief of Turkey’s Jumhuriyat newspaper over the article on Turkey’s weapons supplies to Syria, Dolgov said. "Human rights activists have rather ambiguous attitudes to the widespread practice of blocking any website by Turkish government without any court order," the commissioner said adding that "the list of grounds for such blocking is unreasonably expanding."
The diplomat reminded about the wave of detentions among Turkish intellectual circles after they signed a petition calling for peace and criticizing Turkey’s military operations in the south-east. "Human rights activists say that these measures of Turkish authorities, as well as remarks of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who equated the actions of scientists and actions of terrorists, represent the basis of repressions that are potentially directed against everyone who dares to criticize the government," Dolgov said adding that "Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland expressed concern over this matter."
Dolgov said that the right to freedom of assembly is regularly violated in Turkey as well. "Another example is 1 May 2015 when 39,000 policemen and 50 water cannons were sent to prevent activists from Turkish labor unions from organizing a traditional May demonstration on Tasnim Square in Istanbul," the diplomat reminded.