« Can Dundar, the former editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet, one of Turkey’s main newspapers, discussed the press freedom situation in his native country during an interview with FRANCE 24. « If you are challenging the government’s interests, you are branded a terrorist or a traitor, » he said. Dundar added that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was trying to create chaos in a bid to win the next elections, scheduled for June 2023″ reports Marc Perelman in France 24.
Dundar was sentenced in 2016 to five years in prison for publishing a video purporting to show Turkish arms being smuggled to jihadists in Syria. He fled to Germany in 2016 following an attempt on his life during his trial.
« Erdogan has a long arm over Europe and many countries in the Western world, » Dundar told FRANCE 24. « He’s bluffing, he’s blackmailing European governments for the exchange of people like me (…) Even if I’m living in Germany, I don’t feel totally free. »
The journalist also reacted to Turkey posing its conditions to let Sweden join NATO. « Sweden decided, for Erdogan, to change their constitution and the definition of terror, to give Erdogan what he wanted. And it’s such a shameful thing. So I really want to see European countries stick to their ideals and refuse Erdogan’s blackmail. »
« Erdogan has become the biggest media mogul in Turkey, so he owns the media. Businesspeople close to him have bought the media in Turkey. Almost 80 percent of the media is now controlled by Erdogan. The rest is either under threat or in jail already. So we only have social media and media in exile left, » Dundar explained.
A new law passed by Turkey’s parliament in October could see reporters and social media users jailed for up to three years for spreading « fake news ». Describing the law as Orwellian, Dundar noted that « we have just six months to go to the elections, and of course it’s giving Erdogan a huge advantage ».
Erdogan « is doing his best to stay in power (…) and that’s why he’s trying to start a military operation against Syria; he was threatening Greece just yesterday. He is trying to create a kind of chaotic atmosphere, to convince people that the country needs a strong leader instead of a coalition government, » Dundar concluded.
France 24, December 13, 2022, Marc Perelman