Turkish police break gates, storm critical media group amid brawls

Koza ipek Holding CEO Akin ipek has said a board of trustees who has been appointed to his 22 companies including four news outlets in a politically motivated move do not have the right to interfere in the broadcasts of the groupand’s TV channels.
Riot police stormed the headquarters of the ipek Media Group in Istanbul shortly after dawn on Wednesday, with journalists from the paper trying in vain to prevent them from entering the building.
The interim Cabinet, comprising mainly Justice and Development Party (AK Party) figures, appointed several trustees to replace the management of the Koza ipek Holding business, which encompasses media outlets such as Bugandun TV, the flagship station that has emerged as a main platform for opposition politicians in recent months.
The takeover of the management of Koza ipek Holdingand’s 22 companies, including critical TV stations Bugandun TV, Kanaltandurk and the Bugandun and Millet newspapers, comes just days before Turkey is set to have a repeat parliamentary election on Nov. 1.
A group of police officers cut the Kanaltandurk broadcast just after the police broke into the holdingand’s headquarters, while another group stormed the production control room of Bugandun TV.
Right after police teams, along with the trustees, entered the Kanaltandurk broadcast room they cut the broadcast, and a public service announcement was aired on Kanaltandurk.
While the media groupand’s building was being raided by the police on Wednesday, ipek spoke on the phone to Tarik Toros, the general manager of Bugandun TV, and slammed the efforts to halt the broadcasts of the groupand’s TV channels.
ipek said although he is the head of the executive board of the media company, he has never entered the video mixing room of Bugandun TV and interfered in the work of the journalists working there.
andquotUnfortunately, people — we donand’t know who they are and what they are doing there — are entering your most private room and trying interfere in the broadcasts. Even I did not interfere in your work, so as appointed people, they do not have the right to interfere. You are the most valuable asset there. Nobody can interfere in your work or they will face heavy penalties,andquot ipek told Toros.
The individuals who have been appointed to lead these companies are either members of the AK Party or people who work for pro-government media groups, even though the relevant regulation in Turkish law requires trustees to be completely independent and objective.
ipek said the trustees also do not have the right to fire technical staff at the media outlets, and he also challenged them to examine all the financial transactions in his companies.
andquotAll the images of the companyand’s transactions are in their hands. They cannot even find five kurui unaccounted for. They are not able to say the source of an amount of money dated this or that date is uncertain,andquot he said, adding that all his companies are supervised by independent international companies and not even one kurui of illegal money has been found.
ipek also urged his employees not to be disheartened or upset, saying that these dark days will soon be gone.
andquotDay follows night and spring follows winter. When I see this image [police trying to halt broadcasts of the channels], I called you to join you there. Donand’t leave your posts. The trustees do not have the right to remove you or halt your activities,andquot the businessman said.
In the meantime, it has emerged that ipek ordered the payment of the monthly salaries of his employees on Monday, four days earlier than scheduled, fearing that the trustees could delay or not make the payments.
The decision to appoint trustees to Koza ipek Holding was made by the Ankara 5th Criminal Court of Peace on Monday. The court ruled that trustees be appointed to replace the existing board of directors of Koza and its companies based on a demand by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutorand’s Office.
The takeover of the holding was conducted based on an expert opinion that said there was no fault in the holdingand’s books. The prosecutor argued in his notice that it is suspicious for a holding to have such clean accounting practices given that it is almost impossible to achieve such a thing in Turkey.