Ethem Sancak, a staunch supporter of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and member of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK), has sold the Es media group to Erdoğan’s friend from prison Hasan Yeşildağ, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Thursday.
According to the report, new boss of pro-Erdoğan media group Yeşildağ had voluntarily committed a petty crime to be imprisoned with Erdoğan in 1998 and acted as his guard and arranged his meetings in the Pınarhisar Prison for four months.
The media group owned by Sancak includes several media outlets such as the Kanal 24 and 360 television stations and the Star, Akşam and Güneş dailies.
Sancak, known for the lucrative public tenders he has won during the AKP’s time in office, was elected to the party’s MKYK after Erdoğan was named party chairman again in May.
The businessman once expressed his love for Erdoğan, saying, “I fell in love with Erdoğan the first moment I saw him.”
Turkey is ranked 155th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2017 World Press Freedom Index. The situation of media in Turkey has become critical under the state of emergency proclaimed after the coup attempt.
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has showed that 284 journalists and media workers are now in jails as of August 18, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 259 are arrested pending trial, only 25 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 135 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.
Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt. Turkey’s Contemporary Journalists’ Association (ÇGD) recently announced that more than 900 press cards were cancelled. (turkishminute.com)