The government takeover of Zaman newspaper is the latest deeply troubling episode in the Turkish authorities’ ongoing onslaught on dissenting media, Amnesty International said Friday.
According to the state news agency Anadolu, at the request of the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, a court appointed trustees to take over the newspaper’s management.
“By lashing out and seeking to rein in critical voices, President Erdogan’s government is steamrolling over human rights,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey expert.
“A free and independent media, together with the rule of law and independent judiciary, are the cornerstones of internationally guaranteed freedoms which are the right of everyone in Turkey.”
Just last week, the TV channel IMCTV was taken off air, silencing the only national news channel reporting a counter view of the situation in south-eastern Turkey, where round-the-clock curfews were imposed as armed clashes devastated entire towns.
Last October, court-appointed administrators took over media outlets within the Koza İpek group. President Erdogan has even refused to recognize a Constitutional Court ruling releasing the prominent Cumhuriyet journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül.
The two had been imprisoned since November 2015, awaiting trial on charges of assisting a terrorist organization, espionage and revealing confidential documents.
Last week Amnesty International documented a disturbing pattern of attacks on freedom of the press in Turkey in its Annual Report on the State of World’s Human Rights.
Photo courtesy: Zaman