Turkey takes over media outlets, turns coverage pro-government

Published October 30th, 2015 - 05:28 GMT

A Turkish media house that once criticized the government in its newspapers and television channels printed headlines in favor of the ruling party on Friday after being taken over by the state this week.

The takeover of Bugun and Kanalturk outlets took place just days ahead of a pivotal election, and the crackdown was met with sharp criticism from human rights groups and European officials.

The television stations were not broadcasting news during Friday's morning hours, with Bugun TV airing a show about Turkish food after going off the air on Wednesday.

Bugun newspaper printed an imposing photo of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan surrounded by military and political leaders, while a front-page photo showed Prime Minister Ahmet Dauvutoglu releasing white doves.

The news outlets were part of a wider network of media operated by Koza Ipek, which was placed under court-appointed trusteeship this week as it faces a range of accusations of financial misconduct.

The court-appointed trustees have reportedly fired journalists at the media outlets, Hurriyet reported.

"This is a completely legal process," Davutoglu told broadcaster NTV on Thursday night, denying government involvement in the takeover and insisting "there is press freedom in Turkey."

Turkey heads to snap elections on Sunday, after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) failed to secure a majority of seats in parliament for the first time since 2002. The AKP controls the interim government.

The Koza Ipek holding company is allegedly connected to Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish-born Islamic preacher who is based in the United States.

Gulen and Erdogan were once allies, but have split in recent years and Turkey has since declared the preacher's movement a terrorist group.

The holding company is accused of laundering money and cooking its books. The charges also say the network spread propaganda for the Islamic leader, who has a large global following.

The Gulenists say they are peaceful, globalist and focused on a modern interpretation of Sunni Islam, including teaching math, science and technology.

The moves against the company and its media houses are the latest in a long range of crackdowns against Gulen's supporters in Turkey, which has been gaining ground for nearly two years since the group was at the forefront of corruption allegations against the government.

Erdogan, a founder of the Islamic-rooted AKP, has also tried to convince other countries to curtail the movement's activities, including its network of schools, though this has seen very limited success.

The Gulenists operations in the US, where it runs a massive chain of secular charter schools, are under scrutiny by federal authorities for alleged financial improprieties. They deny any wrongdoings.

By Shabtai Gold

© 2022 dpa GmbH

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