Seized critical dailies transferred into propaganda pieces in Turkey

Turkey’s critical daily Zaman got immediately transferred into a propaganda piece for the government following the takeover by a court assigning trustees with the accusation of “terrorist propaganda.” Similar to what happened at the Koza İpek Holding takeover late last year, reports show that the police entered the Zaman building by force, pushed journalists around and the process continued with key journalists being fired and the Zaman‘s Internet archives are feared to be erased. As of Monday afternoon Turkey time, the website of Zaman was currently inaccessible with an under construction note on display.

Zaman‘s Chief Editor Abdülhamit Bilici and Today’s Zaman‘s former Chief Editor Bülent Keneş were the first to be fired by the new management according to reports.

Zaman’s sister publication, English language daily Today’s Zaman‘s website seemed operational at the same hours but Sevgi Akarçeşme, chief editor of the daily, said that as far as she knows the archives of the newspapers are not erased but the trustees have unplugged the servers so no new content may be entered.

Today’s Zaman has a weekend edition that stays at the newsstands for Saturday and Sunday both. Both dailies’ teams have sent the Friday editions early before the trustees arrived with the police. Saturday edition of the Zaman was perceived as a government propaganda organ as many independent observers foreign and domestic. As for Today’s Zaman, Akarçeşme said the trustees censored all the columnists to be featured on the Monday edition so her team removed their names from the newspaper; refusing to work with censorship. She said two more stories were removed from the daily later on Sunday evening before the newspaper went to print.

Akarçeşme said: “The trustees said today: ‘I do not want any story in this newspaper that denigrates Turkey.’ By denigrating Turkey, they mean criticizing [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan.” She also said the trustees threatened the staff: “The trustees say if we write anything critical against the new policy, they would fire us without paying compensation.”

The court order assigned the trustees to the Feza Journalism Group which houses Zaman, Today’s Zaman and Cihan News Agency. Zaman was one of the top selling dailies of the country and Today’s Zaman was one of the two existing English language dailies critical of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. Cihan News Agency is the only other news agency in the country big enough to cover the election results live other than state controlled Anatolia Agency.

Rohat Aktaş missing, Mazlum Dolan detained

Azadiya Welat News editor Rohat Aktaş is still missing, presumed dead at the basement he took shelter in Cizre alongside others. Local reports say over 150 dead bodies were recovered from the area but about two dozen were identified as most were burned beyond recognition.

‘Rohat defended the unity of all people’ (JINHA)

167 dead bodies retrieved to hospitals from Cizre (JINHA)

Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reporter Mazlum Doğan was trapped at a basement just like Aktaş but in Sur District of Diyarbakır. He has been at the area for 80 days according to DİHA and has notified the agency that he was pinned in place due to the ongoing clashes on February 17. Doğan was taken out of the hot zone by the security forces and got detained on the 19th. He is yet to be released or transferred to court for arrest.

Latest news from Mazlum Dolan (DİHA)

Sur’da mahsur kalanlardan Mazlum Dolan gözaltına alındı (BBC)


Armed assaults on pro-AKP dailies’ offices

Two pro-government dailies had their Istanbul offices simultaneously attacked with guns and Molotov cocktails. Nobody is hurt. Nobody is in custody. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan prematurely claimed that those who have condemned the attacks on the Hürriyet offices last year (which were followed by a terrorism investigation) will be silent about these recent attacks.

Today’s Zaman: “The İstanbul headquarters of the pro-government Yeni Akit and Yeni Şafak newspapers were simultaneously attacked with firearms and Molotov cocktails early on Thursday.” Pro-gov’t Yeni Şafak and Yeni Akit dailies simultaneously attacked

Daily Sabah (video): “Masked assailants have reportedly attacked the headquarters of Yeni Şafak and Yeni Akit dailies with Molotov cocktails in Istanbul early Thursday.” Masked assailants attack headquarters of Yeni Şafak and Yeni Akit dailies in Istanbul 

Bianet: “In the morning around 5 a.m. (February 11) an attack has been carried out with molotov bombs and gun shootings on the buildings of Yeni Akit and Yeni Şafak Newspapers.” Attack on Yeni Akit, Yeni Şafak Newspapers

Hürriyet Daily News: “IPI said that the attacks appeared to be the result of a hostile climate created by government officials’ rhetoric targeting critical media outlets and ongoing impunity for those behind attacks on the offices of daily newspaper Hürriyet and one of its columnists last fall ahead of a bitterly contested snap parliamentary election.” Two pro-gov’t newspaper offices in Istanbul vandalized by gunmen

Yeni Şafak: “Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has strongly condemned the attacks on the headquarters of Turkish Yeni Şafak and Akit daily newspapers.
Erdoğan targeted the parties, previously overreacted on the brawl in front of another Turkish daily newspaper Hürriyet and remained silent after the recent attacks.
“I have my eyes on some newspapers whose windows were previously broken during a brawl, not a conclusion of attacks and also some terrorist organizations’ supporters who throw these newspapers from the dais because they don’t like their editorial policies,” Erdoğan said” Erdoğan condemns attacks on Yeni Şafak and Akit dailies


updates from Turkey

  • Today’s Zaman reported: Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has announced that the country has 67 journalists in jail, and further claimed that they were not sent to prison due to their journalistic activities but rather due to other crimes.Responding to questions during a meeting of Parliament’s Planning and Budget Commission on Tuesday night, Kurtulmuş said: “Among the 67 journalists who are jailed, only five of them have press cards. And only one of them has been convicted, and it is on charges of a minor offense, not for journalistic activity. Out of the 67 journalists, 37 of them have been jailed over minor offenses. I would like to say that journalists should not be jailed during their trial due to their journalistic activities.” Deputy prime minister says 67 journalists in jail in Turkey
  • Today’s Zaman reported: Journalist Kamil Maman appeared before the court on Thursday on a variety of charges including “establishing a terrorist organization for the purpose of committing crime” and “supporting a terrorist group.”The journalist is also accused of “resisting detention,” “aiding and abetting a terrorist group,” “supporting a terrorist group” and “attending protests with a gun.”Maman, who was working for the Bugün daily when he was detained, appeared before the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court. In one of his tweets he posted on Thursday, Maman ironically wrote that he is being tried for forming a one-person terrorist organization. Journalist Maman standing trial on charge of forming terrorist group
  • Evrensel reported on January 28, at 7.21 PM local time that Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reporter Bilal Seçkin is detained by the police from his house in northeastern city of Kars. The reason of the house raid which included some Kurdish politicians’ detainment also, is unknown yet.Kars’ta DİHA Muhabiri Bilal Seçkin gözaltına alındı
  • Local sources at southeastern Turkey reported by quoting JİNHA that two journalists, Murat Bay ( and a foreign journalist named Alex Alfonso were detained in Diyarbakır. Sur’da ‘yasak’sız mahalleye baskın 2 gazeteci gözaltına alındı
  • Today’s zaman reported: “Ahmet Şengüler, the only suspect arrested for allegedly attacking Hürriyet daily columnist Ahmet Hakan Coşkun, a widely read columnist known for his critical stance toward the government, has been released.” Arrested suspect linked to attack on journalist Coşkun released


detained and/or hurt journalists (January 5-25)

  • Bianet reported: “Reporters will keep solidarity watch and make reports in cities under curfew to stick with their colleagues working under difficult situation… The reporters will go in groups every week to cities where curfews have been lasting and make reports there.” Reporters Head for Cities Under Curfew
  • Hürriyet Daily News reported: “In 2015, 774 journalists were fired, 484 legal actions were taken by judicial authorities, 200 press members and seven media companies were subjected to an investigation, 156 journalists were detained, court cases were opened against 238 journalists and at least 32 journalists were currently under arrest, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy chair Sezgin Tanrıkulu said on Jan. 11.” 774 journalists fired, 156 detained last year in Turkey: CHP
  • Detained and released: DİHA reporter Fatih Gönül was briefly detained by the police in Ankara while reporting from a murder trial on January 7. Muhabirimiz serbest bırakıldı Daily Evrensel reporter Eda Aktaş was detained while covering a protest in İzmir on January 9 and then later released. Muhabirimiz Eda Aktaş ve 12 kadın serbest bırakıldı IMC TV’s reporters Bekir Coşkun and Mehmet Dursun were detained and released in Van on January 10. The journalists were investigating a shootout between police and suspected PKK members which ended in 12 deaths. imc tv muhabiri Bekir Güneş ve kameraman Mehmet Dursun serbest DİHA’s Mardin reporter Murat Verim was also detained and released on January 10 during a house raid. DİHA Mardin Muhabiri Murat Verim Gözaltında Alp Kayserilioğlu (Neues Deutschland & Junge Welt) and photographer Sinan Tangay were detained and released in Diyarbakır, near Sur Area where heavy clashes take place, on January 20 Dargeçit’te 2 gazeteci gözaltına alındı Mizgin Adım, Cizre reporter for JİNHA; was detained and released on January 21. JINHA muhabiri serbest bırakıldı
  • Hurt and/or threatened: Bianet reported: “Detention warrant has been issued on journalist Rıfat Tekin injured by bullet as he was following up report in Cizre, there are police officers on duty in front of the hospital where Tekin has been taken into.” Detention Warrant on Injured Journalist Rıfat Tekin DİHA’s Nedim Türfent from Hakkari was hit in the foot by a gas pallet on January 9 according to his own tweet and he was threatened by the police by a phone call according to a DİHA story from January 19. Türfent says a police officer who did not give his name called him and said “come to the police situation if you know what is good for you.” Türfent’s lawyer says there is no warrant against his client. Polisten Gazeteci Türfent’e: Emniyet’e gelmezsen senin için iyi olmaz! Türfent also had a terrorist propaganda” investigation started against him on January 21 for appearing on pro-PKK TV channels Med Nuçe and Stêrk TV. DİHA muhabirine Med Nuçe ve Stêrk TV soruşturması Journalist Mürsel Çoban said he was threatened with death by police in Diyarbakır. The police tried to detain the journalist on duty on January 12 and said “we would disappear you in trenches” according to Çoban’s Facebook post. Haber peşindeki gazeteciye JÖH’ten ‘seni kaybederiz’ tehdidi Evrensel reported on January 20: Amine Bozkurt, distributor for the daily Azadiya Welat in Tunceli, said she was threatened by the police. According to Bozkurt, a police car stopped by near her and they said “how could your family identify you if an accident happens?” Polislerden ‘Başına bir kaza gelirse ailen seni nasıl tanıyacak?’ tehdidi

short updates from Turkey

  • Bianet reported: “Abdurrahim Boynukalın, former Justice and Development Party (AKP) MP, taking part in attack against Hürriyet daily has been appointed as Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports.” Boynukalın Partaking in Hürriyet Attack Becomes Deputy Minister
  • Bianet reported: “Journalist Tatari’s book “Grandma, I was not really in Diyarbakır” and Cemal’s books “Delila, A Young Woman Guerilla’s Mountain Diaries” and “Kurdistan Diaries in the Solution Process” have been ordered to be pulled off the shelves, Ahmet Işık has also been sentenced to a punitive fine of 1,232 euros for having defamed Binali Yıldırım, Minister of Transport, Maritime and Communication.” Tatari, Cemal Books Pulled Off Shelves, Punitive Fine for Ahmet Şık
  • Cihan News Agency reported: “Bayram Kaya, a reporter for the Zaman daily, was forced to submit defense statements for six lawsuits on Thursday based on an article he wrote about the alleged criminal histories of a number of police chiefs despite only being notified about the lawsuits on the same day” Journalist Kaya faces half dozen lawsuits for article 
  • Cihan/Today’s Zaman analysis: Doğan Media appears to bow to political pressure  “The reshuffling within the Doğan Media Group, which has been receiving threats from pro-government figures who have told the daily’s owner, Aydın Doğan, to fire certain journalists deemed anti-government, continues with new dismissals and postings.”
  • Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reported that their correspondent Mensur Küçükkarga is facing an investigation for “PKK propaganda.”
  • Today’s Zaman reported: “Hakan Albayrak, the editor-in-chief of the pro-government Diriliş Postası daily, was dismissed from his position for his columns that were critical of the government, he has said.”Pro-government editor-in-chief fired over columns critical of gov’t

updates from Turkey

Two Kurdish journalists arrested over social media posts

It was reported that a group of 10 journalists were detained and harnessed in Van on Friday where clashes between Kurdish rebels and security forces are ongoing as many other eastern and southeastern cities of Turkey.

Reporters from DİHA, İMC TV assaulted and detained by police

Van’da On Gazeteciye Gözaltı

While the names of the 10 journalists were not listed in the press properly, it was reported on Saturday that two journalists from the group were arrested while the others were released.

According to Bianet, İdris Yılmaz (Dicle News Agency/DİHA) and Vildan Atmaca (Women’s News Agency/JİNHA) were arrested on Saturday. Yılmaz is accused of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by sharing a caricature of him on social media while Atmaca is accused of terrorism propaganda for sharing the photograph of a Kurdish journalist killed by the ISIS.

DİHA ve JİNHA Muhabirleri Tutuklandı

Two reporters for DIHA and JINHA remanded in custody

Reporters arrested for ‘insulting’ Erdoğan, ’terrorist propaganda’ in eastern Turkey

Follow up: The attack on Ahmet Hakan

Today’s Zaman reported: “The attackers of journalist Ahmet Hakan Coşkun have implied the involvement of elements of the Turkish state — including the intelligence agency and the police — and a shady organization said to be linked to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in the planning of the assault against him, according to their statements to the police, which were published on Tuesday.”

Account by journalist’s assailants points to shady links in attack