Three years on from Turkey’s failed coup, the country faces an ever tightening clampdown on civil rights. More than 250 journalists have been arrested since that long summer’s night in 2016. Mahir Zeynalov is one of the lucky ones.
The former LA times journalist has spent the last five years in exile abroad after he was deported from Turkey, now he campaigns for press freedom, not only in Turkey but across the world.
He spoke to Euronews, about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s war on the press, and the death of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s vision.
“There is no doubt about it, obviously whatever Ataturk envisioned for Turkey is on life support, if not dead. But Ataturk’s vision was not perfect anyway, it put too much emphasis on the military, the military establishment is so powerful.
“The military coup attempt three years ago, definitely was, in Erdogan’s words a gift from God to cleanse anyone who was not loyal to Erdogan.”
“This coup attempt allowed Erdogan to further consolidate his power and transform Turkish society for good.”
He says that many of his colleagues are now in jail for doing the same work as he has done for the past 5 years.
“The Turkish government wanted to arrest me, they attempted to many times. They knew that when they arrested me, there would be a backlash, and I’m talking bit five years ago, it wouldn’t really y matter today. So they actually let me go, they expelled me from the country.
“So I’m one of the lucky ones, but I have dozens of colleagues that have worked with me, in the same newsrooms, we ask questions during press conference, and they are languishing in jails in Turkey, and that’s unfortunate.”