Pressure over critical media despite warnings from EU, US

Mehmet Yilmaz, former publishing coordinator of the Bugandun daily and current editor-in-chief of andOzgandur Danduiandunce andndash the altered name of the andOzgandur Bugandun daily andndash condemned a police raid on Zaman headquarters during a TV program on Thursday, saying that the necessary legal arrangements for the new daily were made on Nov. 2.
Authorities of the andOzgandur Bugandun daily have changed its name to andOzgandur Danduiandunce as a result of the escalating oppression over free media.
In a government-backed move, police raided the headquarters of several media outlets early on Oct. 28, taking over the administration of a number of Koza ipek Holding companies, which include critical media outlets belonging to the ipek Media Group. Following the raid, trustees took over management of the Bugandun and Millet dailies, as well as the stations Bugandun TV and Kanaltandurk. On Oct. 30, the Bugandun and Millet dailies published their first editions under management of the new trustees, having been turned into mouthpieces of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In reaction to the new pro-government stance adopted by the confiscated dailies, the fired editors of the Bugandun daily started their own alternative edition, attracting great interest and support from readers.
Late on Nov. 11, Turkeyand’s best-selling newspaper Zaman daily was raided by police, with dozens in riot gear and water cannon vehicles gathered outside the newspaperand’s headquarters in Istanbuland’s Yenibosna neighborhood. Police officers arrived with a court order to collect three copies of the andOzgandur Bugandun daily, over claims that a Zaman press was printing the daily.
On a Can Erzincan TV program, Yilmaz stated: and”Nothing is done illegallyandmdashpublication of the [andOzgandur Bugandun] daily is done on entirely legal grounds. Anyone interested may obtain the relevant documents from the press bureau of the [Istanbul] Chief Public Prosecutorand’s Office.and” Emphasizing that nobody has the right to restrict journalism carried out within the limits of the law, Yilmaz added: and”Even if they are uncomfortable with our using the word andlsquoBugandunand’ in our name, we have taken then necessary legal actions to use it. The trustee could have filed a complaint regarding the trademark registration process, instead of carrying out a raid [on Zaman headquarters] through prosecutors and a penal court of peace.and”
Speaking to Todayand’s Zaman, Ekrem DemirandOz, head of the Bursa Bar Association, said the aim of the police raid on Zamanand’s headquarters was to silence critical media. and”An AK Party deputy named a few [critical] dailies and said andlsquoWe will call them to account.and’ These are unlawful practices that serve a one-man regime, a dictatorship,and” DemirandOz said.
The head of the Bitlis Bar Association, Enis Gandul, and Erzurum Bar Association Committee Chairman Naci Turan spoke to the Cihan news agency on Thursday, criticizing the raid on Zaman.
and”Itand’s not legal to search the newsroom of the Zaman daily using the claim that andOzgandur Bugandun is printed there. Intensifying the situation, they arrived with water cannons, making people [in and around the daily headquarters] nervous andhellip I believe that in the near future, the judiciary will declare just how wrongful these practices are. We all need legal order [in our society],and” Gandul said.
Turan also said: and”These practices are intended to terrorize and intimidate society. A country canand’t progress without a free media. Political suppression of the press paves the way for the destruction of the government.and”
Handurriyet daily columnist Taha Akyol spoke to Todayand’s Zaman, referring to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoilu latest comments on press freedom. and”Unfortunately, the Judiciary has been involved in unlawful practices recently. I think the prime minister is sincere in his words regarding media. However, I also think that his words havenand’t yet been put into action,and” Akyol said.
andquotFreedom of the press is our red line,andquot Davutoilu told CNN International earlier this week.
Contemporary Journalists Association (andcGD)hairman Ahmet Abakay told Todayand’s Zaman: and”The government has again begun to speak frequently on the topic of democracy. Itand’s not convincing at all. What people experience is just the opposite. Speaking about democracy on a TV program doesnand’t make one a democrat. I call on the prime minister to act in accordance with the red line he speaks of and to fix the working conditions of journalists.and”
Kani Beko, the head of the Confederation of Revolutionary Workersand’ Unions (DiSK), regarded the raid on Zaman headquarters as a constitutional crime. Speaking to Todayand’s Zaman, Beko said: and”Those involved in this constitutional crime should not forget that one day they will be brought to justice to account for their actions. If the press is not free, Turkey is not free.and”
Adem Elitok, Betandul Tanriseven, Celal Kaya, ieyma Ercanli, Zehra Evcil, Zeynep Kirian, Kandubra Engin, Mustafa Arslan and Meryem Kiraz also contributed to this report.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN

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