President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday warned Turkish media against disseminating news “contrary to the values and morality of the country” after dismissing his justice minister and the person responsible for compiling inflation statistics 18 months ahead of the next presidential election.
“It has become necessary to take measures to protect [families, children and the youth] against harmful content in the media,” Mr. Erdogan said in a decree issued on Saturday, Belga news agency reported. The gesture was immediately interpreted as a fresh attempt to silence his critics.
The Turkish president also called on authorities to take “legal action” against “the destructive effects” of some media content but did not give further details.
Journalist Faruk Bildirici, a recognised ombudsman, said on Twitter that President Erdogan had just declared “a state of emergency against the media.
“The right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the constitution must not be destroyed, Turkish lawyer Veysel Ok commented, also on Twitter. “These directives have no legal value but in practice, they mean more pressure and censorship.”
Turkish media are already largely under government control, whether directly or indirectly, and this surveillance is being applied increasingly to online content. In 2020, Parliament adopted a law allowing for stricter surveillance of Facebook, Twitter and other social media.