These are dark days for journalists in Turkey, now the leader among governments that imprison news-gatherers. In one week alone, nearly 70 journalists were on trial on false accusations of supporting terrorism. Under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic alliance, and not all that long ago a boisterous democracy, has fallen into the grip of dictatorship. The theater of the absurd is in full season.

Consider the case of Oguz Guven, the online editor in chief of the daily Cumhuriyet, an independent newspaper that Erdogan has targeted. In February 2016, The Post published a lighthearted blog post that compared the faces of world leaders to types of dogs they resemble. The canine choices were made by a new Microsoft app, “Fetch.” Erdogan apparently did not find it amusing that he was deemed to look like a basset hound. In the way of the digital world, some mention of Erdogan resembling a dog appeared on the Cumhuriyet website.

The result is not at all lighthearted. Twenty-two months after the offending post, Guven has just been accused of “insulting the president,” a crime in Turkey, and an Ankara court will take up the case in the spring. Meanwhile, Guven is already in hot water on another frivolous charge – retweeting a snarky comment. Guven immediately realized the words were inappropriate and in 52 seconds deleted the retweet. Not soon enough. On Nov. 21, an Istanbul court sentenced him to three years and one month in prison on two separate terrorism charges.

Erdogan’s paranoia and Stalinist tactics are running riot. The losers will be the Turkish people.


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