These days, the discussions in Turkey centre on media censorship and government coercion of mainstream media establishments. Restrictions on press freedom is nothing new in Turkey. However, since February 4th, 2014, a number of recorded telephone conversations have been leaked onto the internet which seem to give the public a more tangible indication of how exactly mainstream media establishments are muzzled. If we are to believe the authenticity of the recordings, they prove beyond any shadow of doubt the level of government control and censorship over the content published by the Turkish media.
First of all, the authenticity of the leaked telephone recordings have not been officially validated. However, both PM Erdoğan and journalist Fatih Altaylı – two individuals who feature in the recordings – have given tacit acceptance to the authenticity of the recordings in the following ways.
In PM Erdoğan’s case, he admitted to making a phone call to the media organisation Habertürk from Morocco – the context of one leaked conversation. Fatih Altaylı attended a television interview after his implication in the leaks, stating “the honor of journalism is being trampled on. Instructions rain down every day from various places. Can you write what you want? Everybody is afraid”.
The mainstream media organisations in Turkey are owned by conglomerates that have business interests in the energy, construction and mining sectors which are heavily dependent on government contracts. Not surprisingly, this results in such media outlets playing to the tune of the government. The leaked phone conversations thus far concerns the publications of Habertürk in specific. Habertürk is a media group that has both a newspaper and a TV channel.
So far, 6 telephone recordings have been leaked. I will be publishing the transcriptions of the leaked phone conversations as they appear on the web.