Hurriyet Daily News | Committee to Protect Journalists | Today's Zaman

After the Turkish government seized a media headquarters in Istanbul on Wednesday, the group appointed to take over stopped two newspapers from publishing and fired an editor, according to numerous reports.

The Koza-İpek Group owns the daily newspapers Bugün and Millet, where printing was stopped on Wednesday night, Hurriyet Daily News reported Thursday.

“We finished our daily’s pages as of 3:00 p.m. and handed over the newspaper to the [printing] press at 5:00 p.m. They stalled us until 9:00 p.m. They said there was a technical problem. Then they said they would not print it as there was a letter,” (Bugün Editor-in-Chief Erhan) Başyurt told Samanyolu News Channel late Oct. 28.

“Seizure with trustee panel” was Bugün’s headline, while Millet had adorned its headline with “Bloody coup to free media.”

All of the pages of both dallies were published online via their Twitter accounts.

On Wednesday, Poynter reported on the seizure, which took place days before the Nov. 1 parliamentary election in Turkey. The Committee to Protect Journalists has condemned the seizure.

Istanbul police broke the gates of the Koza İpek building in Istanbul's Şişli district and used water cannons and tear gas against protesters who had gathered in support of the news outlets, reports said. The building houses the company's five media outlets: Bugün TV, Kanaltürk TV, Kanaltürk radio, and the daily newspapers Bugün and Millet. Police cut live broadcasts of Bugün TV and Kanaltürk TV during the raid, according to local press reports. The news broadcasts, which had provided political debate and opposition views in the run-up to November 1 parliamentary elections, have been replaced with documentaries on World War II and the lives of camels, reports said. It is unclear if the raid will obstruct the reporting of the radio station and newspapers. Both papers had published their October 29 editions by the time this alert was released.

On Thursday, Today's Zaman reported that Bugün daily Editor-in-Chief Erhan Başyurt was fired by the trustee board now running Koza İpek.

“During today's meeting, the trustees said ‘those who hold these opinions cannot work here,' by showing the paper. These people's problem is the editorial policy,” Zaman daily reporter Ahmet Dönmez, who watched the meeting via live video streaming application Periscope, commented on Twitter.

Today's Zaman and other newspapers did go to the presses. Here's Thursday's front page showing a bloody press card from Wednesday's raid, via Kiosko:

zaman.750

Turkey is ranked 148 of 180 on Reporters Without Borders' 2015 World Press Freedom Index. On Oct. 22, CPJ reported on the climate for press freedom ahead of the election.

Pressure on journalists in Turkey has severely escalated since parliamentary elections on June 7, restricting the media's ability to report on matters of public interest, according to press freedom groups who conducted a joint international emergency mission to the country this week. Ahead of fresh elections on November 1, the group said that if the pressure continues, it is likely "to have a significant, negative impact on the ability of voters in Turkey to share and receive necessary information, with a corresponding effect on Turkey's democracy."