Doğan news agency fires reporter who defended Hakan Şükür against gov’t crackdown

Journalist Kadir Çetinçalı.

Pro-government Doğan news agency has dismissed its reporter Kadir Çetinçalı since he defended Hakan Şükür during a general assembly meeting to expel former football star along with hundreds of others from Galatasaray spor club.

A total of 2,750 members were expelled from Galatasaray spor club over alleged links to the Gülen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding the July 15 coup attempt, on Mar 26. The decision was made although majority of the club members voted “No” to strip Şükür’s membership during a general assembly meeting the day before.

“Nobody would dare to put blame on Galatasaray or manipulate it because its two-three players hanged out with a congregation in their twenties. As Galatasaray members, we cannot take this responsibility on our shoulders. Those who have been ruling the country for 15 years are granted mercy for their mistakes. They have a right to be forgiven. Why wouldn’t our ‘Torinolu Şaban’ have the same right? Do not let you get stained with this historic mistake,”

Çetinçalı, also a club member back in the time, called on other members to vote ‘No’ to Şükür’s dismissal. Çetinçalı was sacked from his position as a reporter at Doğan news agency on April 30. Çetinçalı was also dismissed from the club for his remarks during the assembly meeting.

‘Torinolu Şaban’ is an expression referring to Şükür’s career at Italy’s Torino F.C. in 1995. A striker with a football career stretching from 1987 to 2007, Şükür was by far the most prolific goal scorer in the history of the Turkish national side. He netted 383 goals throughout his career including the fastest ever in a World Cup, in 2002.

Şükür is accused of being a member of the Gülen movement, which the government put the blame on for the July 15 coup attempt. The movement strongly denies any involvement into the putsch. Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets. Doğan media group, parent company of the Doğan news agency, has effectively changed its editorial policy to escape closure. ( May 1, 2017

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