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17 things Turkey’s Erdogan has said about journalists

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Mohamed Azakir/Reuters)
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has always had a love-hate relationship with the news media, but in recent years it seems to have devolved into a hate-loathe relationship. On Tuesday, Britain's Guardian newspaper went so far as to demand an apology over comments made by Erdogan in the run-up to Turkey's general election.

"Mr Erdogan got his words and facts badly wrong," the Guardian wrote.

Does Erdogan really have a problem with the press? Well, to find out, you might want to ask the journalists imprisoned in Turkey (seven at the end of 2014, down from 40 in 2013, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists).

But perhaps it's fairer to look at what the Turkish president has said about journalists. Here's an incomplete selection.

  1. “Do you know what an English newspaper [the Guardian] is saying? It says ‘poor Muslims who are not entirely Westernized cannot be allowed to rule their countries on their own.' Who are you to say this? Who are you, you shameless [one]? Know your place. Since when have you been given such an authority? Turkey is no longer a country of mandates. That is history now. This country is now governed by its true sons.”
    Erdogan's criticism of an op-ed in the Guardian. As the newspaper pointed out later, his criticism was based on a quote that did not appear in the op-ed and was "concocted by a newspaper columnist favorable to the president."
  2. “Their bosses are well known. Unfortunately [it is] the Jewish capital."
    Erdogan's explanation for the New York Times' coverage of Turkey.
  3. “They went mad."
    How Erdogan dismissed a report in the German newspaper Die Zeit that included criticism of the construction of a third airport in Istanbul.
  4. "The person who wrote this story will pay a heavy price for it; I won't let him go unpunished."
    Erdogan's message to staff at the Cumhuriyet newspaper after it published images purporting to show weapons and ammunition being smuggled into Syria by Turkey's intelligence agency. Erdogan was later reported to have filed a lawsuit seeking a life sentence for Cumhuriyet editor in chief Can Dundar.
  5. "Their biggest ally is Dogan Media. The Armenian lobby, homosexuals and those who believe in ‘Alevism without Ali’ — all these representatives of sedition are [the People's Democratic Party's] benefactors."
    Dogan Media, a Turkish conglomerate that owns newspapers such as Posta and Hurriyet, was listed by Erdogan alongside other groups representing a "sedition" that was helping the People's Democratic Party (HDP), a Kurdish-dominated opposition party.
  6. “I think you should change your [profession]."
    Erdogan to Tugba Mezararkali, a reporter with Zaman newspaper, during a news conference.
  7. “They also received the support of some foreign media outlets, which see Turkey as their colony."
    Another comment about support for HDP.
  8. "Those who are in Kandil [the Iraqi mountain where the Kurdistan Workers’ Party is based] have their weapons in their hands. But their [journalists’] most important weapon is their pens.”
    Erdogan comparing the work of Turkish journalists critical of the government to a group designated as a terrorist organization by many nations.
  9. "As a newspaper, you should know your place."
    Erdogan's message to the New York Times after it published an editorial, "Dark Clouds Over Turkey," critical of his leadership.
  10. “Shameless, immoral, treason.”
    Erdogan's description of an article by Times reporter Ceylan Yeginsu about the recruitment of Turkish citizens by the Islamic State militant group. A pro-government newspaper subsequently put Yeginsu's picture on its front page.
  11. CNN “doesn't care about a free, impartial and independent press. They are assigned to work like spies."
    After CNN's Ivan Watson was detained during a live broadcast from the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul, Erdogan suggested that the network was being provocative.
  12. “If this is journalism, then down with your journalism."
    Erdogan on Milliyet newspaper.
  13. A "shameless militant disguised under the name of a journalist."
    How Erdogan described Amberin Zaman, the Economist's Turkey correspondent, after remarks she made on a television show about Islam in Turkey.
  14. "Part of a conspiracy against her own country."
    An accusation leveled against Selin Girit, a host on the BBC's Turkish service, after the broadcaster complained of government intimidation.
  15. "It is a crime to use a bomb, but it is also a crime to use materials from which a bomb is made."
    Erdogan commenting on the detention of investigative journalist Ahmet Sik and the seizure of an unpublished manuscript.
  16. "Nowhere in the world is the press freer than it is in Turkey. I'm very sure of myself when I say this."
    The president on freedom of the press in Turkey.
  17. "Their sources are wrong."
    Erdogan on journalists who say they are harassed in Turkey.

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