Newspapers taken over in Turkey are printing again, and they're now pro-government
Turkish daily newspapers Bugün and Millet resumed printing on Friday, Today's Zaman reports. On Wednesday, the newspapers and television stations owned by Koza İpek Holding were taken over by a government-appointed trustee board ahead of the Nov. 1 parliamentary elections. Koza İpek's headquarters were raided in the takeover and journalists were arrested. On Thursday, the trustees stopped Bugün and Millet from printing, but both published on Twitter.
From Today's Zaman:
The appointed trustees are either members of the AK Party or former employees of pro-government dailies, casting doubts over an impartial guardianship.
The Bugün and Millet dailies published their first editions on Friday after the trustees took over. However, the Friday editions of both papers were full of propaganda reports for the AK Party government and Erdoğan, while there was almost no report on the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) ahead of the Nov. 1 snap election.
— Today's Zaman (@todayszamancom) October 30, 2015
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers reports that in an open letter to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, more than 50 editors from news organizations around the world urged Erdoğan to allow journalists "to do their work without hindrance."
On the eve of an important election on 1 November, which will be of concern and interest to those in Turkey and internationally, the Turkish government’s failure to support and to protect journalists where necessary is undermining the country’s international reputation and damaging its standing as a democracy. We share widespread concerns that recent events are part of a concerted campaign to silence any opposition or criticism of the government in the run up to the election.
We recognise that Turkey is facing a period of considerable tension. It is at such times that the role of a free press becomes ever more critical.
Editors who signed the letter include The Washington Post's Martin Baron, The New York Times' Dean Baquet, The Associated Press' Kathleen Carroll, BuzzFeed's Ben Smith, Mashable's Jim Roberts and VICE Media's Shane Smith.
Kareem Shaheen and Şafak Timur wrote about the takeover for The Guardian.
Officially, the raid against Toros’s TV station was billed as a takeover after a court-appointed panel allegedly found financial irregularities. A spokesman for the Turkish government said the raid was part of a criminal investigation into the activities of the channel’s parent company, not an attack on freedom of expression.
“This is not a question of press freedom but an investigation into [alleged] white collar crime,” the spokesman said. “The parent company … has been under investigation for financial crimes and the Ankara public prosecutor’s office ordered the appointment of trustees to 23 companies owned by the same parent company in order to prevent the destruction of key evidence.”
On Wednesday, Poynter spoke with Turkish journalist Deniz Ergürel via email about what's happening in Turkey.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before. Riot police stormed the headquarters of a TV station on air very early in the morning. The TV station is known to be a critical media outlet. This is a clear attack on press freedom and free entrepreneurship. This is a quite worrisome situation against individual freedoms and the people’s right to know right ahead of the national elections on November 1st.”