Reporters Without Borders condemns "purge" against Turkish journalists

Sixteen TV stations and 45 newspapers have been closed

Turkey, journalists, crackdown, coup, Reporters Without Borders, RSF, TV, newspapers,

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the media in Istanbul in 2015 | Image: Emrah Gurel / AP/Press Association Images

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned what it calls "the purge" against Turkey's news media.

A media crackdown by Turkish authorities has seen the closure of 16 TV stations and 45 newspapers.

It follows the failed military coup in the country earlier this month.

RSF says anti-terrorism police yesterday added 47 new names to a list of wanted journalists.

The new notices were issued on the basis of arrest warrants authorised by an Istanbul prosecutor.

"Those named are former employees of Zaman, a daily that used to support the US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, whose followers are now accused of being behind the coup attempt," RSF says.

"Warrants for the arrest of 42 journalists had already been issued as part of the investigation into the Gülen Movement. The score of already detained journalists include the columnist Sahin Alpay, former Zaman editorial writer Nuriye Akman, well-known TV presenter Nazli Ilicak and former Hürriyet journalist Bülent Mumay."

"It is hard to believe that these increasingly extensive roundups are being carried out with the sole legitimate aim of unmasking those behind the coup and their accomplices," said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF's Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

"We regret having to reiterate that criticising the government and working for media outlets that support the Gülen Movement do not constitute evidence of involvement in the failed coup."

"If the authorities cannot produce more credible evidence, they are guilty of persecuting people for their opinions and that is unacceptable," he added.

In December 2011, 36 media workers were arrested as part of an investigation into the banned Union of Kurdistan Communities (KCK).

RSF says many other journalists were placed in detention from 2008 to 2013, on suspicion of being part of an alleged ultra-nationalist network called 'Ergenekon.'

"In both cases, no hard evidence was ever produced and the journalists ended up being released after long periods of provisional detention, in some cases lasting more than four years," RSF claims.

Turkey is ranked 151st out of 180 countries in the 2016 World Press Freedom Index.