In a recent decision in a Turkish court, ‘Today’s Zaman’ (Turkey’s largest newspaper) is now under the control of Turkish authorities for it’s alleged ties to Fethullah Gulen (currently lives in exile in the U.S.) who Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan says was plotting a coup. The hostile take over of ‘Today’s Zaman’ has European officials and human rights groups up in arms over this action by Turkey and claim that it’s an act of silencing the opposition, which is not related to a coup attempt by Gulen (Gulen’s ties to other Turkish media outlets were seized/taken over in October last year for his involvement in a coup attempt).
Turkey’s Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said,
“Turkey has the right to question those who take part in a clear coup attempt, whether economic or journalistic, against an elected government. There is a legal process examining charges of political operations, including funneling illegal monies. We have never intervened in the legal process.“
This is not the first time Erdogan has silenced the media who opposed him. During the Gezi Park Protests in 2013, Erdogan went so far as to use police to ‘control’ journalists who were reporting on the protests as well as ordering the shutting down the country’s ISPs and ordering the blocking/stopping of internet traffic destined for social media/news-related websites.
Erdogan’s latest crackdown on “Today’s Zaman,” Turkey’s leading newspaper, went from critical commentary to complimentary once in the hands of the Turkish government, further indicating that Erdogan is tightening his grip on Turkish free press under the guise of combating a “plotted coup attempt.” Because Turkey is a United Nations and NATO member, outside pressure from other countries on Erdogan’s media crackdown will be few and far between if existent at all. It will mostly be up to the Human Rights Watch group to vocally admonish this latest act by Erdogan and his silencing of the media in all its forms (Turkey has been known to block social media sites on a frequent basis to allegedly stop “leaks” from within).
With Turkey continuing to suppress Turkish media, it’s surprising that Turkey would chastise the United States for supporting the Kurds when in fact, his actions are much worse and on his own media outlets as well.
Will Erdogan relent and allow Turkey to have free press or will the crackdown continue? Sound off in the comments below!