Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has assured a conference in Ankara, “Nowhere in the world is the press freer than it is in Turkey. I’m very sure of myself when I say this.”
Turkey led the world in detention of journalists in 2012 and 2013 before “improving” to 10th in 2014, but Erdoğan insisted, “The press is so free in Turkey that one can make insults, slanders, defamation, racism and commit hate crimes that are not tolerated even in democratic countries.”
The President’s remarks come less than two weeks after police raids on opposition media outlets seized a leading editor and the head of a broadcaster, both linked to the Gulenist Movement which is challenging Erdoğan’s rule.
Erdoğan has blamed the followers of US-based cleric — and former ally — Fethuallah Gülen for making up the corruption charges that engulfed Cabinet ministers, businessmen, and the President and his son Bilal in December 2013.
The President said on Friday: “You cannot insult [my family] like this in any other country. There is no limit to the insults. You cannot run such headlines in Europe or the US.”
He lambasted the European Union for challenging the recent raids and arrests:
Europeans accuse us as if such things never happen in their countries. No one raises their voice when journalists are detained in Europe.
We are not the scapegoats of the EU. We are not a country that Europe can criticise, wag its finger at and scold without them looking in the mirror themselves.