On Friday evening the Turkish authorities seized the Istanbul headquarters offices of Zaman, Turkey’s largest circulation newspaper and one of the most outspokenly critical voices in the Turkish media. The action was taken on the basis of a court decision which failed to provide any proper evidence to justify taking the newspaper into forced administration.
The Association of European Journalists (AEJ) condemns this blatant attack on press freedom. The authorities‘ abuse of Turkey’s anti-terrorism laws to brand the work of journalists and other critical voics as assisting terrorism is absurd and must be ended at once. The Turkish government’s actions inarbitrarily arresting and imprisoning dozens of journalists, and interfering in the management and editorial policies of media organisaions, contradict Turkey’s international commitments and undermine its claims to be considered as a democracy.
The seizure of the premises of Zaman with the use of massive police force comes only 3 days before EU leaders hold a summit with Turkey. The AEJ expects the European Union and the governments of its member states to forcefully condemn the seizure of Zaman and to demand that Turkey should stop the widespread judicial harassment and other attacks on press freedom, free all members of the media wrongly held in detention, and drop the ongoing criminal cases against numerous editors and journalists.
Otmar Lahodynsky, AEJ President
Tibor Macak, AEJ Secretary General
William Horsley, AEJ Vice-President and Representative for Media Freedom
An urgent Alert was issued by the AEJ and other organisations which identified the Turkish authorities’ seizure of the Zaman newspaper as a serious threat to media freedom. The Alert was published on the Council of Europe’s Platform on the Protection of Journalism and the Safety of Journalists.