Trump blasts media as anxious Americans come to grips with coronavirus pandemic

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday capped a tumultuous week as Americans faced sweeping life changes and massive Wall Street losses amid the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak by turning to a familiar playbook: attacking the media.

In a contentious press briefing, the Republican president lashed out at an NBC reporter who noted Trump’s tendency to put an optimistic spin on the situation and asked what his message was to the American people who may be scared.

“I say that you’re a terrible reporter. I think that is a nasty question,” Trump said.

Two of the nation’s most populous states – California and New York – have enacted their toughest restrictions yet affecting some 60 million people, while federal authorities this week moved to close the borders with Canada and Mexico. More than 200 people have died in the United States and over 14,000 cases of the highly contagious respiratory illness had been confirmed by Friday.

Trump and top administration officials for weeks downplayed the outbreak, which began in China in December, before shifting their tone about the severity of the health crisis more recently.

The president, who is running for re-election on Nov. 3, has long sparred with the media, blasting coverage of him as “fake news” and “hoaxes,” and slamming news outlets and journalists on his Twitter feed. His re-election campaign also recently filed lawsuits against several outlets, including the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Yet the crises has propelled Trump recently to give briefings with news outlets nearly every day in the White House briefing room, a place he eschewed during his first three years in office.

On Friday, in a particularly unusual twist, Trump’s first White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, attended the briefing and asked a question in his role working for Newsmax. Spicer repeatedly sparred with reporters during his time as a spokesman early in Trump’s term.

During his recent engagements with the press, Trump has sought to display unabashed optimism despite more sober comments from public health officials, medical experts, state governors and others who have sounded the coronavirus alarm.

One reporter on Thursday asked about the impact on the economy as many businesses have had to dramatically shift operations or shut down entirely during drastic measures to slow the spread of the virus.

“Thanks for telling us. We appreciate it,” Trump said. “What’s the rest of your question? We know that. Everybody in the room knows that.”

Asked last week about his role regarding the disbanding of a National Security Council pandemic preparedness team on his watch, Trump told a PBS reporter: “That’s a nasty question… When you say me, I didn’t do it.”

(Reporting by Steve Holland, Alexandra Alper, and Jeff Mason; writing by Susan Heavey; editing by Bill Berkrot)

Pakistani plan for media courts sparks fears for press freedom

Pakistani plan for media courts sparks fears for press freedom
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani government plans to launch specialist media courts sparked a furious backlash on Wednesday from media and rights advocates who said the move was an attack on freedom of speech.

Government spokesman Firdous Ashiq Awan said late on Tuesday that cases against the media would be heard by the special tribunals, which would be overseen by higher courts.

The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) said the move was a “black day” for the Pakistani media and that they would fight the measures in the legislature and judiciary.

“Special courts aimed at intimidating and strangulating the media and freedom of expression are not only unconstitutional but also contrary to the spirit of democracy,” Hameed Haroon, APNS president, and Sarmad Ali, APNS secretary-general, said in an emailed statement.

Journalists and human rights advocates have feared the introduction of the courts amid complaints of growing pressure on broadcasters and newspapers to avoid covering critics of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s administration.

In July, opposition parties accused Khan of intimidating broadcasters into a blackout on TV coverage of his critics, after several channels were briefly taken off-air and opposition protests and news conferences passed unreported.

Khan, who took office last year, has denied censoring media and has called the accusations a “joke”.

Government spokesman Awan said in a tweet that the existing media oversight body to be replaced by the special courts had been criticized for being under state control and that the new courts would meet judicial standards and process cases faster.

“The whole process will be a true reflection of laws and high democratic values,” she said, adding that journalists could also take complaints about the government to the media courts.

But that did not quell the fears of many freedom of speech advocates, with the non-governmental watchdog Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) saying it was alarmed.

“How are tribunals expected to maintain the media’s independence?” it said in a tweet. “Given the government’s woeful record on press freedoms, HRCP urges it to refrain from pressurizing the media further.”

Pakistan’s press has had a turbulent relationship with successive governments and the powerful military for many years.

Writers and bloggers say several cases of reporters being abducted and beaten, critical columnists being denied space, advertising business cut to media houses and sackings of TV commentators have created a climate of fear and self-censorship.

(Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield in Islamabad and Syed Raza Hasan in Karachi; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Let’s take the fake out of our news!

The Fake News Highway - Image by John Iglar

By Kami Klein

There was a time when the news wasn’t so confusing.  Before the internet, most families had their morning newspaper delivered conveniently to their door. In order to keep your business or be competitive, newspapers battled over the facts and dug deeper to reach the truth per investigative journalism.  The stories would be presented without opinions but based on legitimate proof. Of course, just as internet news does today, a powerful headline didn’t hurt.  

Once the workday was winding down, the evening news of the day was given through well-respected television journalists such as Walter Cronkite and Tom Brokaw, who presented the unbiased facts, trusting in the abilities of their listeners to ponder and come to their own conclusions.  The news itself was taken quite seriously. The worst thing to happen to a reporter was to be proven or accused of dishonorable reporting. To be respected in the journalism field was the goal and not how many facebook followers or tweet responses happened in a day or whether they have stayed true to their personal beliefs. Becoming a journalist was a calling… not the way to fame.

Suddenly we have the internet highway where everyone can have an opinion, Competition requires all journalism to be the fastest news source which yields little time for investigation or vetting and by presenting a portion of the facts which in many cases is served to the public with a generous amount of opinion gravy poured on top. Conservative or Liberal, it is rare to find an unbiased news source. Add to this confusing issue the hot topic of “Fake News” and it is a wonder any of us really knows what is going on. 

Every day, in social media across the world, fake news is often more prevalent in our feed than those stories that are actually the truth or at least close to it.  These (articles) are spread by the misconception that if it is on the internet, it must be true, or because the story sits right in line with the personal beliefs of the reader, it must be correct.  The share button gets a hit, and the lie continues on its journey. Where we used to be able to hold the reporter or journalist accountable for their information, the responsibility is now ours. In an age where anyone can post a news story, how do we take the fake out of our news? 

There are several kinds of fake news on the internet.  The following information comes from a story written by MastersinCommunication.org.. Called “The Truth about Fake News”. It is important for us to be able to identify and beware of the following:    

 

  • Propaganda – News stories designed to disparage a candidate, promote a political cause, and mislead voters
  • Sloppy Journalism – Stories containing inaccurate information produced by writers and editors who have not properly vetted a story. Retractions do little to fix the problem, even if there is one since the story has spread and the damage done.
  • Sensationalized Headlines – Often a story may be accurate but comes with a misleading or outrageous headline. Readers may not read past it, but take everything they need to know from this skewed title.
  • Clickbait – These stories are deliberately created to create traffic on a website. Advertising dollars are at stake, and gullible readers fall for it by the millions.
  • Satire – Parody websites like The Onion and The Daily Mash produce satirical stories that are believed by uninformed readers. The stories are written as satire and not meant to be taken literally, but unless you check their website, not everyone will know. 
  • Average Joe Reporting – Sometimes a person will post an eyewitness report that goes viral, but it may or may not be true. The classic example of this was a tweet by Eric Tucker in Austin, Texas in 2015. Posting a picture of a row of charter busses, Tucker surmised and tweeted that Trump protesters were being bussed in to rally against the President-elect. The tweet was picked up by multiple media outlets, and Mr. Trump himself, going viral in a matter of hours. The only problem is, it wasn’t true.

 The 2020 elections are upon us and fake news will be used as a weapon.  False news can destroy lives and ultimately do great harm to our country. 

How do we beat these fakes and stop them?  Here are some tools available to anyone who does not want to be duped by those that are attempting to manipulate for power, creating greater discourse or for money. If we can all take responsibility for what we share, we are one step closer to legitimate news.   

HERE ARE QUICK TIPS FOR CHECKING LEGITIMACY OF A NEWS STORY

 

  1.  Pay attention to the domain and URL – many times these sites will make something very close to a trusted news source.  Sites with such endings like .com.co should make you raise your eyebrows and tip you off that you need to dig around more to see if they can be trusted. This is true even when the site looks professional and has semi-recognizable logos. For example, abcnews.com is a legitimate news source, but abcnews.com.co is not, despite its similar appearance.
  2. Read the “About Us” section- Most sites will have a lot of information about the news outlet, the company that runs it, members of leadership, and the mission and ethics statement behind an organization. The language used here is straightforward. If it’s melodramatic and seems overblown, you should be skeptical.  This is where satire sites will let you know that what you are reading is only meant for entertainment. The laugh is then on us when we take what they say as the truth. they are counting on you NOT to check. 
  3. HEADLINES CAN BE MISLEADING!! -Headlines are meant to get the reader’s attention, but they’re also supposed to accurately reflect what the story is about. In fake stories, headlines often will be written in an exaggerated language with the intention of being misleading.  These will then be attached to stories that give half-truth or the story proves that the headline would never or has not actually happened.  
  4. Fact-Checking can be your friend –  Not only is fact-checking smart, looking to see if your particular news story leans to conservative or liberal points of view is just as important. Mediabiasfactcheck.com is one of my go-to places.  They also provide a great list of fact-checking sites that are highly recommended. You will also find a wonderful list of news web sites that have been deemed as non-biased. 

  While Facebook and Twitter are being held accountable for much of what is on our social media today, they will only succeed with our help. Together, we can take the fake out of the news and make responsible choices for our future!  

 

Foreign media reporting conditions in China worsen, group says

Red flags flutter on the top of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China September 30, 2018. Picture taken September 30, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

BEIJING (Reuters) – Last year marked a “significant deterioration” in reporting conditions for foreign journalists in China, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said on Tuesday, with no reporter saying in a new survey that conditions had improved last year.

The group said 55 percent of respondents to its 2018 reporting conditions survey said they believed conditions deteriorated last year, the largest proportion since 2011.

“Not a single correspondent said conditions improved,” the group said, unveiling results of a survey of its 204 foreign correspondent members, 109 of whom responded to questions.

“Rapidly expanding surveillance and widespread government interference against reporting in the country’s far northwestern region of Xinjiang drove a significant deterioration in the work environment for foreign journalists in China in 2018.”

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing that the report was “not worth refuting” and could not represent the views of all foreign journalists.

The government has repeatedly said it is committed to ensuring foreign media can report easily, but that they must follow the rules and regulations.

According to rules issued just before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, foreign reporters can interview anyone as long as they have permission.

But the government often interprets the rules to suit its needs, rights groups say, especially when it comes to sensitive subjects. Tibet remains off limits for foreign journalists apart from government-organized visits.

While foreign journalists are occasionally harassed or temporarily detained, domestic media operate under strict government controls. Chinese reporters have been fired or jailed for writing stories that stray too far from the government line.

President Xi Jinping has overseen a sweeping crackdown on dissent since assuming office six years ago and his administration has tightened Communist Party controls on all levels of society, including in Xinjiang.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina; Editing by Neil Fullick)

Parents of U.S. journalist missing in Syria appeal to U.S., Syria

FILE PHOTO: Marc and Debra Tice, the parents of American journalist Austin Tice, walk after a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The parents of an American journalist kidnapped in Syria six years ago appealed on Tuesday for the United States and Syria to work together to find their son and said they had applied for Syrian visas to lobby there for his release.

Austin Tice was 31 years old when he was detained in August 2012 at a checkpoint while reporting in Damascus on the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

He has not been heard from publicly since a video posted online weeks after he disappeared showed him in the custody of armed men, though both Washington and his parents say they believe he is alive.

“We urge both the United States government and the Syrian government to work together to resolve this humanitarian issue,” Marc Tice said at a conference in Beirut.

This is the eighth trip Debra and Marc Tice have made to Beirut in their quest to seek their son’s release and they say they have increased hope that the administration of President Donald Trump could make progress in the case.

“One of the continuous requests we make of the U.S. government is that they make direct contact with their peers in Syria. And that never occurred during Obama administration,” Marc Tice said. “We are very encouraged during this new administration.”

Robert O’Brien, U.S. President Donald Trump’s special envoy for hostage affairs, said in November the United States believes Tice is alive but did not elaborate on his condition.

O’Brien urged Russia, a close ally of Assad, to push for Tice’s release. The Syrian government says it is unaware of Tice’s whereabouts.

Marc and Debra Tice did not comment on who might be holding their son, but said they believed he was in Syria and that the Syrian government was best placed to help find him.

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation has offered a reward of $1 million for information that leads to Austin’s safe return. Recently, a coalition of media and other organizations in the United States announced plans to match the FBI reward.

“Through these long years we have periodically been told by reliable sources that Austin is alive and is being properly cared for,” Debra Tice said.

(Reporting by Ellen Francis; Writing by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

Malaysia outlaws ‘fake news’; sets jail of up to six years

Commuters walk past an advertisement discouraging the dissemination of fake news at a train station in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia March 28, 2018. Picture taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia on Monday approved a law against “fake news” that would allow for prison of up to six years for offenders, shrugging off critics who say it was aimed at curbing dissent and free speech ahead of a general election.

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government secured a simple majority in parliament to pass the Anti-Fake News 2018 bill, which sets out fines of up to 500,000 ringgit ($123,000) and a maximum six years in jail. The first draft of the bill had proposed jail of up to 10 years.

The government said the law would not impinge on freedom of speech and cases under it would be handled through an independent court process.

“This law aims to protect the public from the spread of fake news, while allowing freedom of speech as provided for under the constitution,” Law Minister Azalina Othman Said told parliament.

The law defines fake news as “news, information, data and reports which is or are wholly or partly false” and includes features, visuals and audio recordings.

It covers digital publications and social media and will apply to offenders who maliciously spread “fake news” inside and outside Malaysia, including foreigners, if Malaysia or a Malaysian citizen were affected.

Co-opted by U.S. President Donald Trump, the term “fake news” has quickly become part of the standard repertoire of leaders in authoritarian countries to describe media reports and organizations critical of them.

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, had earlier on Monday urged the government not to rush the legislation through parliament.

“I urge the government to reconsider the bill and open it up to regular and genuine public scrutiny before taking any further steps,” David Kaye said in a Twitter post.

OTHERS CONSIDER LAWS

Other countries in Southeast Asia, including Singapore and the Philippines, are considering how to tackle “fake news” but human rights activists fear that laws against it could be used to stifle free speech.

Malaysia is among the first few countries to introduce a law against it. Germany approved a plan last year to fine social media networks if they fail to remove hateful postings.

Malaysia already has an arsenal of laws, including a colonial-era Sedition Act, that have been used to clamp down on unfavorable news and social media posts.

News reports and social media posts on a multi-billion dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) have hounded Prime Minister Najib, who faces arguably his toughest contest in a general election this year that could be called in days.

Najib has denied any wrongdoing in connection with losses at the fund.

A deputy minister was quoted in media last month as saying any news on 1MDB not verified by the government was “fake”.

Lim Kit Siang, a senior opposition lawmaker with the Democratic Action Party, described the bill as a “Save Najib from 1MDB Scandal Bill” which would criminalize news on the affair.

(Reporting by Joseph Sipalan; Writing by Praveen Menon; Editing by Robert Birsel)

North Korea cancels joint performance with South Korea, blames South media

North and South Korea women's ice hockey athletes stand in a line at a dining hall at the Jincheon National Training Centre in Jincheon, South Korea January 25, 2018

By Christine Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea has canceled a joint cultural performance with South Korea scheduled for Feb. 4 blaming South Korean media for encouraging “insulting” public sentiment regarding the North, South Korea’s unification ministry said on Monday.

The North said it had no choice but to call off the performance, which was to be held in the North Korean territory of Mount Kumgang, as South Korean media continued to insult what Pyongyang called “sincere” measures regarding the Winter Olympics Seoul will host next month, the ministry said.

Early in January, North and South Korea launched rare talks to bring North Koreans to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics after the North’s leader Kim Jong Un said he was willing to open up discussions with Seoul.

The two Koreas had been in discussions regarding final details over the joint performance. They were also talking about a different concert in South Korea by a North Korean orchestra and sending South Korean athletes to train at a North Korean ski resort.

The North added that the agreement on the Mount Kumgang joint performance had come despite conflict with its internal celebrations, the unification ministry said. North Korea has at least two major holidays coming up next month – Kim Jong Il’s birthday and a military founding anniversary.

Seoul said North Korea’s decision to cancel the joint performance was “very regrettable” and stressed Pyongyang should uphold all agreements made between North and South Korea.

President Moon Jae-in’s administration has faced criticism for its response to North Korea’s participation in the Games, especially after it decided to form a combined women’s ice hockey team with athletes from the two Koreas for the Winter Olympics.

Many South Koreans have complained the unified women’s hockey team – the only such joint team to be formed – was unfair to the South Korean players, going so far as creating over a hundred petitions against the unified team on the presidential Blue House’s website.

The controversy has sent South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s overall approval rating below 60 percent for the first time since he took office in May last year, according to a survey released last week by South Korean pollster Realmeter, dropping more than 6 percentage points since the previous week.

(Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

Trump suggests challenging TV network licenses over ‘fake news’

The NBC logo is picture atop their office building in San Diego, California September 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Blake - GF10000189520

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump suggested challenging licenses for NBC and other broadcast news networks following reports by NBC News that his secretary of state had called him a “moron” after a discussion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

“With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!” Trump, a Republican, wrote in a post on Twitter on Wednesday.

Trump and his supporters have repeatedly used the term “fake news” to cast doubt on media reports critical of his administration, often without providing any evidence to support their case that the reports were untrue.

Trump kept up his criticism of the media in an appearance with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, saying: “It is frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write.”

In a tweet late on Wednesday, Trump said: “Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!”

Any move to challenge media companies’ licenses, however, would likely face significant hurdles.

The Federal Communications Commission, an independent federal agency, does not license broadcast networks, but issues them to individual broadcast stations that are renewed on a staggered basis for eight-year periods.

Comcast Corp, which owns NBC Universal, also owns 11 broadcast stations, including outlets in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas and Chicago.

A Comcast spokeswoman referred questions to NBC, which did not immediately respond.

ABC, owned by Walt Disney Co, declined to comment.

Shares in media companies fell, potentially reflecting concerns the war of words could worsen. Comcast was down 0.8 percent, while Disney shed 1.4 percent. CBS Corp fell 1.2 percent and Twenty-First Century Fox slid 2.8 percent.

Recon Analytics analyst Roger Entner called the market response a “short-term irrational knee-jerk reaction” and said Trump faced essentially insurmountable hurdles to getting licenses pulled.

A spokesman for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai did not immediately comment.

Gordon Smith, the chief executive of the National Association of Broadcasters, defended the media’s free speech rights.

“It is contrary to this fundamental right for any government official to threaten the revocation of an FCC license simply because of a disagreement with the reporting of a journalist,” Smith said in a statement.

ABC, owned by Walt Disney Co, declined to comment.

Numerous Democrats criticized Trump and urged Pai to denounce Trump’s comments.

Senator Ed Markey wrote Pai on Wednesday asking him to “withstand any urges from President Trump to harm the news media and infringe upon the First Amendment,” a reference to the U.S. Constitution’s free speech and press freedom guarantee.

Democratic U.S. Representative Frank Pallone said Trump “seemed to threaten broadcasters’ licenses only because he disagreed with their reporting. This threat alone could intimidate the press and lead to skewed and unfair reporting.”

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel responded to Trump by tweeting a link to an FCC fact sheet. “Not how it works,” she said on Twitter.

‘FAIRNESS DOCTRINE’

When reviewing licenses the FCC must determine if a renewal is in the public interest, according to an agency fact sheet on its website.

The FCC said in the fact sheet it expects “station licensees to be aware of the important problems and issues facing their local communities and to foster public understanding by presenting programming that relates to those local issues.”

The agency does not issue similar licenses for cable networks such as CNN and MSNBC, or regulate internet news or other websites.

The FCC has said the First Amendment “expressly prohibits the commission from censoring broadcast matter” and that its role “in overseeing program content is very limited.”

In the early 1970s, then-President Richard Nixon and his top aides discussed using the FCC’s license renewal process as a way of punishing the Washington Post for its coverage of the Watergate burglary that ultimately brought down his presidency.

NBC News has reported on tensions between Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and has said Trump sought a dramatic increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a meeting with national security advisers in July. NBC reported Tillerson made his “moron” comment after that meeting.

Trump on Saturday also suggested he should get “equal time” because of what he described as late-night television hosts’ “anti-Trump” material.

The FCC’s equal time rules apply in limited cases to air time for political candidates and not to criticism of elected leaders.

Trump may have been referring to the “Fairness Doctrine” that was designed to ensure broadcasters present opposing viewpoints about public issues. Republican President Ronald Reagan’s administration eliminated it in 1987.

(Writing by Makini Brice and David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton in Washington and Jessical Toonkel in New York; Editing by Frances Kerry, Paul Simao, Grant McCool)

Turkey targets opposition newspaper over suspected coup links

A man looks at newspapers at a kiosk in Diyarbakir, Turkey November 2, 2015. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

By Humeyra Pamuk

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish authorities have issued arrest warrants for the owner and three employees of an opposition newspaper, a police source and the paper said on Friday, part of a continuing media crackdown that has alarmed rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies.

The four are accused of committing crimes on behalf of the network of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, they said. Gulen is blamed by Ankara for masterminding last July’s failed coup against President Tayyip Erdogan, a charge he denies.

Turkish police carried out searches at the homes of the owner and the three employees of Sozcu newspaper, which is fiercely critical of Erdogan and his ruling AK Party, and also detained the paper’s internet editor, the police source said.

The paper’s owner is currently abroad, he added.

The state-run Anadolu news agency said the charges against the four suspects included planning “the assassination of the President and physical assault” and “armed rebellion against the government of the Turkish Republic”.

Metin Yilmaz, editor-in-chief of the secularist, nationalist Sozcu, confirmed the police raids but denied the accusations, saying his paper had long criticized Gulen and his supporters.

“The only thing we do is journalism. But doing that in this country is a crime in itself,” he said in a statement published on the paper’s web site. “Writing the truth, criticizing and doing stories are all crimes.”

The investigation drew sharp criticism from Turkey’s main opposition party CHP. Its leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, said the probe was “unacceptable”, while senior CHP lawmaker Ozgur Ozel said it aimed to silence all dissent.

JAILING JOURNALISTS

Since the failed coup, Turkish authorities have shut more than 130 media outlets and a press union says more than 150 journalists have been jailed, raising concerns about media freedom in a country that aspires to join the European Union.

The arrest warrants for Sozcu came days after a court jailed the online editor of another opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, pending trial, on a charge of spreading terrorist propaganda.

Around a dozen journalists from the paper, long a pillar of Turkey’s old secularist establishment, are already in jail facing sentences of up to 43 years in prison, accused of supporting Gulen’s network.

Turkey has also suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants and has arrested nearly 50,000 others suspected of links to the Gulen movement.

Turkish officials say the crackdown is necessary because the Gulen movement had set up a “state within a state” that threatened national security. They point to the gravity of last July’s coup, when rogue troops commandeered warplanes to bomb parliament and used tanks to kill 240 people.

But Erdogan’s critics in Turkey and abroad say he is using the coup to purge opponents and muzzle dissent. Last month he narrowly won a referendum that grants him sweeping new powers.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Gareth Jones)