Award-winning Turkish journalist charged with ‘insulting’ Turkey’s President

Prosecutors filed a case against Today’s Zaman columnist Yavuz Baydar on Saturday for “insulting” the president in two recent columns.

“This is the latest in a number of cases of journalists being targeted and charged for insulting the president, which in turn forms part of a wider crackdown on a free and independent media in Turkey,” said Index chief executive Jodie Ginsberg.

“The international community needs to do more to halt this rapidly deteriorating situation.”

Last week Turkey freed two British journalists working for Vice, an online news organisation, who had been charged with “aiding a terrorist organisation”, but their colleague Mohammed Ismael Rasool remains in jail.

“We, those trying to perform their jobs in the media, are using our rights to provide information and criticise the government based on rights granted to us by the Constitution, the laws and international treaties we are a party of,” Baydar said in an interview, published on “Being critical, questioning and warning is our professional responsibility. We shall continue to criticise. Just like many other colleagues who are investigated [on the same charge], there is no intention to insult in these columns but the right to criticise was used. I am saddened. I am concerned for our country and the media.”

In July it was announced that Baydar was being awarded Italy’s prestigious Caravella Meditterraneo/Mare Nostrum prize for his work on press freedom and media independence in Turkey.