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German daily TAZ issues Turkish edition on World Press Freedom Day

TAZ has come out with a Turkish version of its newspaper on World Press Freedom Day. The edition appears amid President Erdogan's media censorship and crackdown on journalists in the last years.

The TAZ's Tuesday edition was rechristened "Die Günlük Gazete" (Turkish for "The Daily Gazette"), providing extensive coverage in Turkish on Ankara's increasingly brutal policy of media censorship. The switch, likely aimed at Germany's large Turkish-speaking community, coincided with World Press Freedom Day.

In the newspaper's leading essay with the title "The journalist is always guilty," the left-leaning TAZ asked: why was Ankara so secretive and what did it want to hide?

Erdogan's party, the AKP, has been in power for the last 14 years in Turkey. "There have been dubious deals, fatal mistakes, financial interests, the illusory fantasy of an undivided and unified Turkish state as well as the wrongful policy of war in Kurdish regions. All these are reasons for the 'secrecy' and for denying information. Simply put, the government hides anything, which it does not want anyone to see," the TAZ wrote.

But what really irked the authors was how the sequence of events typically unfolded after a bomb explosion, a suicide attack or a massacre. "First there is an explosion, then the Internet and social media slow down. Then there is a news blackout," the editors said, referring to recent terror attacks in Ankara, Istanbul, Suruc and Diyarbakir.

Deutschland Medien Screenshot der Web-Seite der TAZ

The TAZ's special edition on World Press Freedom Day

The government and state in Turkey were forcing journalists to adopt a cynical attitude, the daily said. It summed up the attitude reporters in Turkey have to adopt as: "Don't press for more, be satisfied with what you've been offered and don't show your anger."

Reporters were now effectively working as "code crackers," trying to unveil the truth that the president was hiding, the TAZ wrote.

Erdogan and press freedom in Germany

Press freedom in Europe is the lowest in Turkey and Poland, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). However, while Poland ranked 49th of 180 countries in RSF's 2016 table, Turkey was 151st, nestled between Tajikistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Regardless, Ankara remains a key European Union partner in dealing with refugees from the Middle East.

Bild zeigt Marcel Offermann und seine Erdogan-Puppe

Marcel Offermann created this "Erdogan" doll to show solidarity with satirist Böhmermann

Erdogan's government has now

signed a deal

with the EU to take back Syrian refugees making their way to Europe over the Aegean Sea, with the EU exchanging them for refugees from camps in Turkey.

Besides chasing journalists in its own countries, Turkey has also become more pro-active in seeking to prosecute international broadcasters and journalists. The most famous recent case involved German satirist

Jan Böhmermann,

who was charged with insulting a foreign head of state after he recited a poem criticizing the Turkish president last month.

On the request of Erdogan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel allowed authorities to investigate the satirist and potentially press charges.

mg/msh (dpa, KNA)

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