Crackdown on Turkish media ahead of crucial election

The National reports: Police armed with water cannon, tear gas, and a court order, forced their way into the headquarters of a media group in Istanbul on Wednesday, just days ahead of fresh parliamentary elections.

Earlier this week, Turkish authorities effectively seized control of the media group’s parent company, Koza Ipek Holding, by placing it under the management of a panel of trustees. The company has been placed under investigation over its links to the Gulen movement, an Islamic group opposed to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Prosecutors have accused the two TV channels and two newspapers run by the company of spreading terrorist propaganda.

The Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, Nils Muiznieks, called the police raids “a particularly disturbing illustration of the dangerous path Turkey has undertaken in recent months as regards its stance on media freedom”.

The press in Turkey is no stranger to censorship and intimidation. Top officials, including president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are known to order editors to pull content and sue unsympathetic cartoonists. Journalists shy from investigative reporting, particularly when it comes to corruption, for fear of treading on tender corporate toes. Those who rub government bigwigs the wrong way are routinely let go.

But in the run-up to Sunday’s election, poised to determine Mr Erdogan’s political future, and amid renewed fighting in the Kurdish south-east, the media crackdown has grown increasingly fierce. Some of the Turkey’s most renowned journalists have been placed under investigation for allegedly defaming Mr Erdogan in opinion columns or on social media. A leading cable provider has removed seven channels, all run by companies linked to the Gulenists, from its platform. [Continue reading…]

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