Turkey's Erdogan says press freedom important for strong democracy

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, much criticized for his strongarm tactics against the media at home, stressed the importance of the freedom of the press on Sunday.

"Media should be independent," he said in a statement to mark Journalists' Day in Turkey. Democracy was as strong as its journalists were free, the statement said.

But Erdogan warned that press freedom should not be confused with irresponsibility.

Reporters Without Borders ranks Turkey 149th out of 180 countries for freedom of the press.

Turkish journalists have come under increasing pressure from Erdogan and his government.

The president personally filed charges against Can Dundar, the editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet newspaper, which is critical of Erdogan, and his colleague Erdem Gul.

The two have been detained awaiting trial since last year on charges of espionage and terrorism.

Erdogan's statement on Sunday included a warning about "black propaganda" being spread via social media. Twitter is particularly popular among government critics in Turkey.

The authorities have taken repeated action against Twitter, at times shutting it down.

Last update: Sun, 10/01/2016 - 17:28

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