© 2023 WUGA | University of Georgia
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Exiled Turkish Journalist in Athens to Discuss Press Freedom


An exiled Turkish journalist touring the country made a stop in Athens Thursday. She’s hoping to get the message out about the importance of a free press and the price some are paying for it.

The IDEA Society of UGA hosted Sevgi Akarcesme during her visit to campus. The former editor-in-chief of Turkey’s largest English-language newspaper has been in exile since March 2016.

Akarcesme says she’s speaking on behalf of those who can’t.

“As people might have heard, Turkey has drifted into dictatorship real fast in the last couple of years,” Akarcesme said. “There has been a massive, unprecedented purge in which critics, anyone who is considered a threat to the government has been removed from jobs, jailed, arrested, or even sometimes, disappeared.”

She says as a result of the purge, men, women and children, even babies have been jailed with their mothers, in addition to journalists and government critics. But she says Americans and others can help the situation in Turkey.

“My share would be speaking up on behalf of these people, and your share as Americans would be putting pressure on your elected officials, calling them, writing them letters, sending messages on social media to news outlets asking them to cover the situation in Turkey more.”

That pressure works, she says 10 Amnesty International members were freed this week. Akarcesme is traveling with two suitcases containing all her belongings. While she did live in Europe briefly, she hopes to make the US. her new home.

“I’m hoping this place to be my adopted home, my home of choice. I share the language with people here. I don’t feel like a foreigner here.”

Her next stop is Atlanta, then Florida.

Over 200 journalists are thought to be in jail in Turkey at the moment.