In the letter, Deloire detailed the dire press freedom situation in Turkey, which has recently dropped to 157th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ 2018 World Press Index and remains the world’s biggest prison for professional journalists. Under the state of emergency imposed following the failed coup attempt in July 2016, over 100 journalists have been arrested, more than 140 media outlets closed, and at least 889 press cards rescinded.
“President Erdoğan has been invited to the UK in the midst of an unprecedented freedom of expression crackdown at home. Theresa May must address these serious issues as a matter of urgency in her meeting with President Erdoğan, rather than prioritising trade deals with Turkey whilst Erdoğan’s critics languish behind bars. Anything short of calling for the release of the country’s jailed journalists would send a very worrying signal about the UK’s priorities in its bilateral relations with Turkey”, said RSF UK Bureau Director Rebecca Vincent.
President Erdoğan’s visit to the UK is scheduled to take place between 13 and 15 May. In addition to the Prime Minister, he will reportedly meet with Queen Elizabeth. His visit takes place just six weeks before Turkey’s snap presidential and parliamentary elections, criticised for being called a full 18 months earlier than planned, and under the continued state of emergency.
The full text of the letter is available to download below.