Breaking the Silence

How Turkey smothered press freedom — and made arresting its journalists a weapon. A documentary by Voice of America.

Watch the full documentary

Press freedom has never been ideal in Turkey. But under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s authoritarian reign, the country emerged as a top jailer of journalists. Independent and critical media are targets, while government censorship is on the rise. Turkey’s story holds lessons about the fragility of democracy
— and why a free press matters.

On the Front Lines of Free Speech

The Activists

When the Turkish government cracked down on the Kurdish newspaper Ozgur Gündem, journalists and activists stepped up in solidarity. And paid a price. (9:55)

The Cartoonist

Turkey’s press has a long tradition of political cartooning. But this is a country where insulting the president can be a crime. (7:10)

The Journalists

What’s it like to be arrested and jailed for doing your job — reporting the news? Meet Turkish journalists whose work ensnared them in a nightmarish cycle of court hearings, detentions and fines. (11:08)

About this project

The right to free and open access to news and information should be universal, but threats to a free press persist in many parts of the world. Turkey is one of them. Though Turkey is a democracy, the watchdog group Freedom House classifies it as “not free” in part because of media restrictions and digital censorship. The advocacy group Reporters Without Borders calls Turkey the “world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists,” with digital censorship reaching “unprecedented levels.”

About VOA

Voice of America provides trusted and objective news and information in 47 languages to more than 278 million people around the world. We strive to fill the void created by censorship and repression, model the workings of a free press, and tell America’s story in all its diversity. VOA is part of the United States Agency for Global Media.