Con­cern over Turkey’s me­dia crack­down

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

IS­TAN­BUL: The EU and jour­nal­ist as­so­ci­a­tions have ex­pressed con­cern about a widen­ing crack­down on me­dia in Turkey, call­ing on Ankara to re­spect fun­da­men­tal free­doms.

As a can­di­date na­tion for EU mem­ber­ship, Turkey “needs to as­pire to the high­est pos­si­ble demo­cratic stan­dard and prac­tices, in­clud­ing on the free­dom of the me­dia”, said EU spokes­woman Maja Ko­ci­jan­cic.

Turkey de­clared a state of emer­gency fol­low­ing a failed July 15 coup at­tempt that left 290 peo­ple dead, and is con­duct­ing a large-scale crack­down on peo­ple sus­pected of ties to US-based Mus­lim cleric Fethul­lah Gulen, whom the govern­ment ac­cuses of mas­ter­mind­ing the coup bid.

Gulen him­self has de­nied any knowl­edge of the at­tempted coup.

Turkey has de­tained nearly 16 000 peo­ple over sus­pected links to the failed up­ris­ing, and about half of them were for­mally ar­rested to face trial.

In to­tal, more than 66 000 peo­ple have been sus­pended or dis­missed from their jobs in the wider pub­lic sec­tor for al­leged ties to the Gulen move­ment, ac­cord­ing to the state-run Anadolu news agency, in­clud­ing in health care, ed­u­ca­tion, the ju­di­ciary, min­istries, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and even Turkey’s na­tional air­line.

“It is wor­ry­ing that, fol­low­ing the en­try into force of the state of emer­gency in Turkey, ar­rest war­rants have been is­sued against a large num­ber of jour­nal­ists and a num­ber of out­lets have been shut down,” Ko­ci­jan­cic told re­porters in Brus­sels.

Ko­ci­jan­cic said it was “ex­tremely im­por­tant the Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties re­spect un­der any cir­cum­stances the rule of law, hu­man rights and fun­da­men­tal free­doms”.

Ankara has de­fended the crack­down, say­ing it is root­ing out peo­ple af­fil­i­ated with Gulen.

Dozens of me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions – most of them also linked or for­merly linked to Gulen – were or­dered shut­tered late last Wed­nes­day.

They in­clude 45 news­pa­pers in­clud­ing the daily Taraf news­pa­per, 16 tele­vi­sion sta­tions, in­clud­ing a children’s chan­nel, 23 ra­dio sta­tions, 15 mag­a­zines and 29 pub­lish­ing houses.

Gulen was an ally of Er­do­gan un­til ten­sions between the two came to a head with cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions against Er­do­gan’s in­ner cir­cle in 2013. – ANA-AP

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