National Press Club calls on Turkish government to protect press freedom
November 2, 2015
The National Press Club is deeply concerned the Oct. 28 raid on the Koza-Ipek media group in Ankara is politically motivated and is another sign of the deteriorating press freedom in Turkey.
An Ankara court recently ordered the seizure of the company's assets as part of an ongoing investigation that accuses it of financing terrorism and promoting terrorism propaganda.
“This isn't the first time the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has clamped down on news media in the country,” said NPC President John Hughes. “We are deeply concerned this pattern shows a continued disregard for a free and independent press that are cornerstones of democracy and a civil society.”
The Koza-Ipek media group is linked to Fethullah Gulen, a political rival of Erdogan. The government has not yet provided any proof of criminal activity that could warrant the take-over of the holding company by a government-approved board of trustees and it continues to persecute journalists who are trying to do their job.
After Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its majority in June in a general election the government called for a snap election set for Nov. 1. Since then however, the Intercept reports at least 40 journalists have been detained. That's a sixfold increase compared to last year in a country where press freedom has already been a concern for international observers. The AKP declared victory after preliminary results from the Nov. 1 election showed it winning.
The Press Club urges the government of Turkey to immediately present evidence to show the seizure is indeed related to a criminal investigation and not a politically-motivated move to clamp down on press freedom. Without such evidence the government should hand back Koza-Ipek to its executives and allow its journalists to continue their work.
“Without a free and independent media the Turkish people are deprived of real discourse and oversight of the democratic process,” Hughes said.