News / Europe

    Restrictions on Turkish Media Tighten

    Turkish journalists demonstrate outside the governor's office to protest censorship and new regulations on media freedoms and Internet bans in Istanbul, Feb. 16, 2014.
    Turkish journalists demonstrate outside the governor's office to protest censorship and new regulations on media freedoms and Internet bans in Istanbul, Feb. 16, 2014.
    Dorian Jones
    Turkey's President Abdullah Gül has signed controversial new Internet control measures into law despite national and international criticism and concerns about reduced freedoms for Turkish media. VOA's Dorian Jones met in Istanbul with the founder of an independent Internet news site that has been at the forefront of the battle over Internet and press freedom.

    The website Vagus.tv features a mixture of professional and citizen journalism. According to its founder, Serdar Akinan, such sites have become increasingly popular, especially in the last couple of months, due to extensive allegations of high-level government corruption. But Akinan said reporting on corruption put Vagus itself in the news.

    "We started to publish some corruption allegations about the prime minister [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan]. But all of sudden, one night, like two weeks ago, they shut [us] down, they closed the site. And 12 days we stayed closed, but after I became an issue in Turkey ... they were forced to open the site," said Akinan.

    In a parliamentary address, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, demanded to know why Vagus website was blocked. That pressure appeared to work and the authorities reopened the site, providing little in the way of explanation as to why it was closed and then reopened.

    This is not the first time that Akinan has crossed swords with the government. He was once a well-known and established mainstream journalist, working as an editor at some of the top Turkish news TV channels.

    But, he claimed, he has become a marked man for pursuing an editorial policy that is impartial, including its coverage of Prime Minister Erdoğan.

    "Two years ago I was editor-in-chief of Sky Turk News Channel, so because of my broadcasting policy, let's say there was huge pressure. I know that the government, especially Prime Minister Erdoğan, pushed very hard for firing me, and one day they fired me. I was writing also [a] column for Aksam daily, and also I was fired from there. So Vagus was born like that," said Akinan.

    The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists, in its recent report about attacks on the press during the past year, highlighted what it contends is the widespread policy in Turkey of firing journalists critical of the government. Similar concerns were reflected by the European Union in its latest report on Turkey’s membership bid. Charges the government denies, insisting that media freedom has improved under its rule.

    Akinan’s launch of the Vagus.tv site fortuitously coincided with last summer’s wave of anti-government demonstrations, known as the Gezi Park protests. With mainstream media widely suspected of being under government pressure to play down the unrest, news sites like Vagus filled the vacuum. But it proved to be a bittersweet success.

    "Vagus, after the Gezi Park protests, reached 2 million unique visitors per month, which is quite a big number for Turkey. And I go check all the advertising companies, and they say this is quite a good number and normally you should get this amount of advertising, but we cannot give to you. Because your site, you are doing some news, and that the prime minister is not happy with you, and you are on the blacklist," said Akinan.

    And it is likely that things will get worse for Akinan.

    Earlier this month, thousands of people protested against the government's move to extend its control over the Internet. The sweeping legislation gives the ruling AK Party the power to close websites deemed to threaten individual privacy, without a court order. Akinan admitted the new law could force him out of business.

    "Before that it was just judges ... deciding bad and good content. Now it’s the bureaucrats - bureaucrats appointed by the prime minister himself. There is no more justice for the journalists. My wife and me, we are planning to go outside Istanbul, we will open an organic farm and we will live like that," he said.

    Observers warn that Ankara is likely to face growing domestic and international pressure over Internet and journalist freedom.

    On Tuesday, President Gül expressed concern about dwindling press freedom in Turkey, saying the media have the right to rise up against “wrongful practices.” He compared Turkey's global image to that of a light which had been shining brightlhy but is now fading.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora