WASHINGTON, DC – The National Press Club on Friday voiced its serious concern over the Turkish government’s move to seize control of a leading opposition newspaper and other affiliated news outlets, the latest action in a troubling series of crackdowns on independent journalism in the country.
An Istanbul court ordered trustees to take over the running of the widely-read daily Zaman newspaper following a request from state prosecutors, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency. The newspaper is tied to religious leader Fethullah Gulen, now in exile in the United States, whose Gulen movement has become a potent domestic adversary for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
A Zaman journalist told NPC he fears he and many of his colleagues will now be fired by the new management and the newspaper’s reporting shifted to eliminate any critical coverage of Erdogan.
“The Turkish government’s seizure of Zaman is deeply troubling for supporters of free and independent journalism in Turkey,” said National Press Club President Thomas Burr. “It’s particularly troubling given other repeated actions by the Erdogan government to lock up journalists for their reporting on sensitive issues such as the Kurds and terrorism. We urge President Erdogan to rethink these deeply harmful actions, which are in conflict with Turkey’s ambitions of serving as a model for democracy to the Middle East.”
The National Press Club, founded in 1908 and based in Washington, D.C., is the world’s leading professional organization for journalists. Through its Press Freedom Committee, the club promotes transparency and free expression worldwide.