Turkish authorities are cracking down on CNN Turk, an affiliate of the international broadcaster based in Istanbul, after the news network “insulted” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a live segment.
The Bakirkoy Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has officially opened an investigation into the editor and produce of CNN Turk’s morning news programming. According to reports, the word “dictator” was used to refer to Erdogan. The comments came during a segment about the leader of Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who had recently referred to Erdogan as a “sham dictator.”
On January 18, Erdogan’s prosecutors opened an investigation into Kılıçdaroğlu, demanding he pay the government 100,000 Turkish Liras ( $33,086 dollars) as punishment for his choice of words.
“Additionally, CNN Turk’s news ticker displayed ‘Dictator’ on trial,” using the term dictator in quotes, according to Hurriyet Daily News.
CNN Turk has been broadcasting out of Istanbul since 1999.
Some have criticized the network for seemingly ignoring the recent massive public protests against Erdogan’s rule. From May to August 2013, an estimated 3.5 million citizens took part in the demonstrations. In the midst of protests, while CNN International was featuring the events live from Istanbul, CNN Turk was broadcasting a penguin documentary.
According to the Reporters Without Borders 2015 World Press Freedom Index, Turkey is ranks 149 out of 180 countries when it comes to allowing for the freedom of the press.
Freedom House, in its Freedom Of The Press 2015 index, ranks Turkey as tied for 142nd place, and designates Istanbul’s media as “Not Free.”
Under Erdogan’s rule, Turkey has seen a continuing decline in press freedom. The government continues to enact aggressive measures to expand the state’s power to censor the internet and the media as a whole. Erdogan’s government regularly targets journalists who criticize his rule, claiming they are defaming the state or are threatening the national security interests of the country.
In October, Turkish police raided several companies and television networks days before the country’s elections. The raids targeted groups that were opposed to Erdogan’s reign.
Turkey files more censorship requests with Twitter than any other country, according to the social media giant’s transparency report. Facebook and Google, similarly, have reported that the Turkish government asks for thousands of pieces of content to be removed from the web.