Thursday

27th Apr 2017

Turkey ranks lowest in Europe's press freedom index

  • One in seven people live in a country with a 'free' press, says Freedom House (Photo: Hindrik S)

Europe maintains the overall highest press freedoms worldwide despite rollbacks in Greece, Montenegro, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

Among the 42 countries ranked in Europe in a report out on Thursday (1 May) by the US-based NGO Freedom House, Turkey has seen the greatest decline.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The NGO scales the rankings by looking at how media is affected by a country's laws, politics, and economy.

Media in Turkey was previously rated as "partly free". The NGO has now ranked it as "not free".

Recent crackdowns and restrictive provisions in Turkey's criminal code along with its Anti-Terrorism Act means more and more journalists are being jailed.

As of December last year, 40 were behind bars, making Turkey the world's leading jailer of journalists.

On Monday, a Turkish columnist was sentenced to 10 months in prison reportedly because of a typo in a Tweet.

Onder Aytac of an opposition newspaper claims he unintentionally inserted the letter K in a Tweet about Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The extra letter means he told Erdogan to "fuck off".

Greece and Montenegro slipped in the partly free category.

Greece dropped in part because of the forced government shut down of the public broadcaster Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) and an increase in libel suits and surveillance against journalists.

Bombs targeting journalists and news outlets in Montenegro, along with government efforts to cut funding of critical media are among the reasons behind its drop in the press freedom index.

The UK, for its part, maintains a free press but dropped in the category after government authorities used the Terrorism Act to detain the partner of investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald.

UK authorities last year also raided the offices at The Guardian newspaper and forced the editors to destroy hard drives with data on US-led mass surveillance.

Other EU member states in the partly free category include Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania.

The Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden were ranked as the world's most free in terms of press. The worst performer on the global stage was North Korea, followed by Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

Around 14 percent of the world's population live in country with a free press. At 44 percent, most live where there is no press.

Freedom House, for its part, says the overall global rankings means press freedoms have reached the lowest level in over a decade.

“We see declines in media freedom on a global level, driven by governments' efforts to control the message and punish the messenger,” said Karin Karlekar, project director of the report, in a statement.

Governments step up Internet surveillance

At a separate event on hate speech in the media in Brussels last week, organised by the International Federation of Journalists, a top Google official said more and more governments are cracking down on the Internet.

"In recent years, months, we are really seeing a crackdown on the Internet," said William Echikson, a spokesperson for the internet search giant.

Echikson noted that at least 17 countries have blocked the social video sharing website YouTube at one time or another.

"We are receiving more and more threats about content on YouTube everywhere around the globe," he said.

Echiskon said the recent mass surveillance revelations by Edward Snowden have led to an increasing number of governments wanting to control the Internet.

He noted France recently snuck in a law in its defence appropriations bill that allows the government "great access to conduct surveillance on the Internet".

Turkey moves to block YouTube

After having denied Turkey's 12 million Twitter users access to the micro-blogging site, Turkish authorities have now moved to block YouTube.

EU starts legal action against Hungary

The EU Commission is to launch a legal probe into Hungary's attack on a Soros-funded university, but Hungary's Orban was unrepentant the he faced MEPs.

European states still top media freedom list

Nordic countries Norway, Sweden and Finland still have the world's most free media, according to Reporters Without Borders, but the overall situation is declining.

News in Brief

  1. EU parliament moves to lift Le Pen's immunity
  2. EU Commission launches probe into Hungary's university law
  3. Scots slowly losing appetite for independence - poll
  4. Council of Europe puts Turkey on watch list
  5. EU to put parental leave on political agenda
  6. Israel cancels German meeting over human rights groups
  7. Hungary's Orban will participate in EU parliament debate
  8. Malta floats cash-for-refugees plan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  3. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  4. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  5. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  6. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  7. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  8. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  10. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  11. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  12. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children

Latest News

  1. EU starts legal action against Hungary
  2. Brexit is about Europe's future as well
  3. Power struggle in Greenland: Three reasons why the EU should care
  4. Nordic and Baltic countries step up digitalisation efforts
  5. European states still top media freedom list
  6. Let’s not put European public health at risk
  7. Threatened Budapest university calls for EU support
  8. Orban set to face down EU threats