Freedom of speech was heavily restricted after the 1980 military coup headed by General Kenan Evren.During the 1980s and 1990s, broaching the topics of secularism, minority rights (in particular the Kurdish issue), and the role of the military in politics risked reprisal. For example, publisher Fatih Tas was prosecuted in 2002 under Article 8 at Istanbul State Security Court for translating and publishing writings by Noam Chomsky, summarizing the history of human rights violations in southeast Turkey; he was acquitted, however, in February 2002.In 2015 Cumhuriyet daily and Doğan Holding were investigated for "terror", "espionage" and "insult".On the date of Bianet's publication, 61 people, of whom 37 journalists, were convict, defendant or suspect for having insulted or personally attacked the then-PM, now-President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.Several dozen journalists, including prominent columnists, lost their jobs as a result of such pressure during the year, and those who remained had to operate in a climate of increasing self-censorship and media polarization.
In the third quarter of 2015, the independent Turkish press agency Bianet recorded a strengthening of attacks on the opposition media during the Justice and Development Party (AKP) interim government.
It has also developed links with media groups, and used administrative and legal measures (including, in one case, a .5 billion tax fine) against critical media groups and critical journalists: "over the last decade the AKP has built an informal, powerful, coalition of party-affiliated businessmen and media outlets whose livelihoods depend on the political order that Erdogan is constructing.
Those who resist do so at their own risk." Since his time as prime minister through to his presidency Erdogan has sought to control the press, forbidding coverage, restricting internet use and stepping up repression on journalists and media outlets.
Verbal attacks on journalists by senior politicians—including Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the incumbent prime minister who was elected president in August—were often followed by harassment and even death threats against the targeted journalists on social media.
Meanwhile, the government continued to use the financial and other leverage it holds over media owners to influence coverage of politically sensitive issues.