Turkish journalist subjected to smear campaign after meeting opposition leader in London

Turkish journalist subjected to smear campaign after meeting opposition leader in London
Update: 08 November 2022 16:29
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Pro-government media accompanied by online trolls attacked Al-Monitor correspondent Amberin Zaman after she shared a photo with CHP leader Kilicdaroglu on Twitter

Journalist Amberin Zaman fell victim to an online smear campaign after meeting opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu during his visit in London.

The trolls started to attack Amberin Zaman, the UK-based senior correspondent for the Al-Monitor news website when she shared a photo on Thursday from their meeting on Twitter saying “Everything is going to be alright,” a slogan from the opposition campaign back in 2018 local elections. 

The UK branch of the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) said in a statement on Monday that Zaman has been subjected to a massive wave of shocking online abuse, harassment and death threats on social media platforms due to her post with Kilicdaroglu.

Mehmet Ali Celebi, a deputy who was recently transferred to the ruling AKP from the Good Party, fanned the flames by posting photos on Twitter from Zaman’s earlier interviews with PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) leaders and pieces from her columns going back to 2014.

Pro-government media have spread malicious misinformation, falsely calling her a supporter of terrorism, inciting popular hostility. The widespread dissemination of death threats and explicit warnings of rape and sexual violence, accompanied by lurid and unfounded attacks on her reputation, raise acute fears for the journalist’s personal safety

In addition to pro-government media and figures, some CHP politicians also criticized their leader for meeting with Zaman, whom they called a “traitor,” a “fugitive” journalist and a supporter of the PKK.

In the past, Amberin Zaman worked for several years in Turkey for media including The Washington Post and The Economist but since 2016 she has lived and worked outside Turkey. She had long been the target of defamatory and malicious smear campaigns and vicious personal threats from Turkish government figures and their followers, including an army of trolls who have sought to brand her as a terrorist and a heretic from Islam.