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Erdogan Boasts That Turkey has “World’s Freest Press” As Teen Faces Trial for Insulting Him

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan boasted that his nation has the “world’s freest press” Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported Saturday.

“Nowhere in the world is the press freer than it is in Turkey. I’m very sure of myself when I say this,” he said in a televised speech to a conference in Ankara.

“The press is so free in Turkey that one can make insults, slander, defamation, racism and commit hate crimes that are not tolerated even in democratic countries,” he said.

“I’ve personally experienced this, so has my family,” he added.

But as AFP adds, Turkey was rated by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in 2012 and 2013 as being “the world’s top jailer of journalists.” In 2014 CPJ improved its ranking of Turkey slightly to the tenth place, among the countries that jail the most journalists.

Erdogan made his boast as a teen was released from jail, having been arrested for insulting the president. The teen was arrested at school for saying that Erdogan is the “chief of theft, bribery and corruption.” The teen, Mehmet Emin Altunses, still faces a trial for insulting Erdogan and could face up to four years in jail if convicted.

In May the watchdog group, Freedom House, downgraded Turkey’s ranking for press freedom to “not free.”

Two weeks ago Turkey arrested over 20 journalists including the top editor of the nation’s most popular newspaper prompting criticism from the European Union.

[Photo: Adam Jones / Flickr ]