Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been on a serious campaign to get Turkey’s press under control.
In the latest move, Erdogan is suing a news organization for espionage because it posted evidence that the state’s intelligence service haphazardly supported anti-Assad forces in Syria in 2013 and 2014. Some of the rebels receiving help later turned out to be key players in the Islamic State movement.
Erdogan’s administration has used not only government powers to limit and block all versions of free press and expression.
Last year the government blocked Twitter and the Internet exploded. The action came as more Turks began discussing a growing corruption scandal that reached to the presidency.
When the plug was pulled on Twitter Erdogan showed bravado that was later shut down.
“The international community can say this, can say that. I don’t care at all. Everyone will see how powerful the Republic of Turkey is,” he said.
What he saw was an uproar not only around the world but even within his own ruling party.
The Freedom House rankings for Turkey have dropped from Partly Free to Not Free.
In the past two years his government has passed new laws that expanded the government’s authority to close down websites critical of the government and increased the state’s surveillance powers.
The country holds national elections June 7. Erdogon’s ruling party, the AKP, is expected to remain in power.