Doğan may be the next media victim

Pro -government daily Akşam claimed a Turkish prosecutor is about to go after businesspeople and media owners Aydın Doğan and, his daughter, Hanzade Doğan Boyner with accusations of running a fuel smuggling organization in a story published at the top story of their yesterday’s front page. Though the existence of such an investigation is not official yet, it caused a drop in the shares of the Doğan Holding shares according to Reuters. Doğan Media Group used to be the biggest media owner in the country before they let go some of their media organs to government-friendly businesspeople. Aydın Doğan have a rocky relationship with the ALP government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan throughout the years which can be remembered with the landmarks such as the massive tax fine against the group in 2009, cutting the ribbon together to open the Doğan-Trump partnership Trump Towers in Istanbul in 2012 and the accusations exchanged over a real estate permit issue in İstanbul last year. Turkey government recently made moves against pro-Hizmet Koza İpek Holding and Feza Journalism company through trustees attended by courts and they either shut down the featured media organs or turned them into government propaganda tools which leads to rumors enough to cause worry about whether if Doğan is next or not.

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updates from Turkey

Turkey arrests two journalists over Syria coverage

Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, chief editor and Ankara representative for the daily Cumhuriyet are arrested on November 26 due to their coverage of Turkey allegedly sending weapons to Syria under the cover of humanitarian aid. The journalists are accused of exposing secret documents and espionage for the benefit of the alleged Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETÖ/PYD).

Dündar and Gül were called to testify on November 26 about the allegations regarding the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) transporting weapons and munition to Syria by truckloads under the cover of humanitarian aid to Syrian Turkmens. Two trucks were stopped by the gendarmerie in southern Hatay and Adana provinces under the orders of local prosecutors on January 1 and 19 of 2014. The related gendarmerie and judicial personnel who were involved in the stopping of the trucks are also facing terrorism charges. Cumhuriyet‘s headline story of May 29, 2015 was on the truck stopped in Adana: “Here are the weapons that Erdoğan says do not exist.”

Both Dündar and Gül denied the accusations brought against them alongside any ties to the alleged FETÖ/PYD organization and they said their work is journalism, not espionage. This did not stop the court from arresting Dündar and Gül with “strong suspicion that a crime was committed” for “knowingly and willingly aiding an armed terrorist organization,” “terrorist organization membership” and “obtaining and exposing secret documents of the state for means of political and military espionage.” The journalists are sent to Silivri Prison, pending trial with no court date set. Cumhuriyet‘s legal team appealed the arrest verdict on November 30.

Despite the video and photographic proof, the authorities claim the visuals are forged; deny weapons were sent to Syria but insist that the contents of the trucks load is a matter of national security as it was mentioned in the prosecution questioning documents.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has filed a personal criminal complaint on the Cumhuriyet coverage: “I also filed a lawsuit. What only matters to them is casting a shadow on Turkey’s image. I suppose the person who wrote this as an exclusive report will pay a heavy price for this… I will not leave go of him,” Erdoğan has said on live TV on June 1, 2015; implying Dündar, who has his byline on the MİT Trucks story. Alican Uludağ, correspondent for the Cumhuriyet, shared the document of Erdoğan’s complaint on social media on the day his colleagues were arrested and an Istanbul prosecutor started an investigation against him according to reports.

However, Erdoğan recently said: “what if the trucks were filled with weapons?” and Dündar has quoted him in his defense at court.

The allegations regarding the MİT Trucks were first reported by the daily Aydınlık months ago but no legal action has been taken against them. Aydınlık has criticized Cumhuriyet on May 29, 2015 for calling their reporting “exclusive” and stated that they have covered the trucks story 16 months ago; on January 21, 2014. Dündar has also stated in his court defense that he was not the first journalist to report on the MİT trucks. However, according to reports, a trial was started against the leftist news portal Sol Haber about the same coverage and the portal’s former responsible editor Hafize Kazcı will be heard by court for “violating the secrecy of an investigation,” facing one to three years in prison.

Also, Cumhuriyet Board Chair Akın Atalay tweeted on November 30 that financial inspectors will go over 2010 books of the daily which they have done 2.5 years ago. Financial inspection as an intimidation tool is a known method of the government; best known as the Doğan Holding tax fine incident in 2009.

Short updates November 6-12

Short updates from Turkey

Pro-Kurdish News Agency JINHA reported that their correspondent Filiz Zeyrek was briefly “kidnapped” by the police in Seyhan District of Adana. The police did not detain the journalist but questioned her in a moving car for half an hour and took her pictures according to the report. The jpurnalist was let go after the intimidation attempt.

Adana’da JİNHA muhabiri polis tarafından kaçırıldı

Journalist Sedef Kabaş was acquitted of “menace” and “targeting public officials involved in counter-terrorism” charges due to her tweet about a Turkey prosecutor at the first hearing today.

Turkish journalist acquitted in case into tweet critical of corruption prosecutor

Suspects in the case into the beating of Hürriyet columnist Ahmet Hakan have confessed that a former police officer offered them 100,000 Turkish Liras to attack the journalist.

Suspects say offered 100,000 liras for attacking Hürriyet columnist Ahmet Hakan

Daily Zaman Chief Editor Ekrem Dumanlı resigned.

Daily Zaman editor-in-chief resigns over ‘pressure on press, personality’

Aydın Doğan, the founder and honorary chairman of Doğan Holding, has said that Turkey’s largest media group “does not have to be pro-government,” amid rising pressure and violence targeting the company and its workers.

I’m an independent publisher, I don’t have to be pro-gov’t: Aydın Doğan

Police raids pro-Hizmet media organs, holding

Turkish police raided the Koza İpek Holding buildings in Istanbul and Ankara today in early hours.  The holding houses pro-Hizmet media organs such as the daily Millet, KanalTürk TV, Bugün TV and the daily Bugün. The reason for the arrests was “financing terrorism,” “terrorist propaganda” and “embezzlement” as the owner Hamdi Akın İpek is featured as the suspect. Akın İpek is not currently in Turkey according to reports. The search warrant says the alleged terrorist organization is named FETO; named after Hizmet Movement’s spiritual leader cleric Fethullah Gülen. Koza İpek Holding is operating on many fields besides media, including health, food, insurance, tourism and mining sectors. Many of their companies are under investigation. There is a court order for İpek’s detainment.

Turkish police raid offices of critical Koza İpek media group

39 newspapers receive penalty for publishing photos of hostage crisis

The Press Bulletin Authority (BİK) has stopped placing public advertisements for between one and 12 days as punishment to 39 newspapers which published photos related to a hostage crisis on March 31 that resulted in the death of İstanbul public prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz.

39 newspapers receive penalty for publishing photos of hostage crisis