Reuters’ seized properties put up for sale by Turkey’s Saving Desposit Insurance Fund

Eyüp Burç

Turkey’s Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF), which unlawfully sells the properties of TV stations and newspapers that have been first seized by Turkish government and later closed under the state of emergency (OHAL) in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, has put goods originally belonging to the international news agency Reuters for sale.

According to a report by the Karınca online news portal, the announcement of TMSF stated that the goods and licenses of IMC TV will be sold through an auction between September 5 and October 10. The editor-in-chief of the closed TV station, Eyüp Burç, who spoke after the announcement that the goods will be sold by a tender, has stated that the properties that the TMSF is going to sell does not actually belong to IMC TV itself and added that “the TMSF sells goods seized at the moment. These goods belong to the international news agency Reuters. They sell Ahmet’s goods as if Mehmet owns them.”

Burç has emphasized that the TMSF has put up properties belonging to Reuters agency and Jan Production, which was offering channel equipments and services to IMC TV according to a contract. “The TMSF is currently selling usurped goods,” Burç has continued, “We are one hundred percent right and will win this case. The TMSF will also damage on state’s budget.”

The editor-in-chief of IMC TV had also taken the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which rejected the applications from Turkey on the basis that “domestic remedies were not exhausted.”

Speaking of the administrative law in Turkish legal system, Burç told that cases are either making slow progress or they do not even reach a conclusion by noting that the ECtHR is also responsible for the increasing numbers of grievances because it still leaves decision making up to the domestic remedies. Turkey’s Ministry of Justice said with the establishment of the OHAL commission, 12,600 cases currently awaiting review at the ECtHR were dropped by the court.

Properties belonging to nine of the media outlets that the Turkish government seized under post-coup emergency rule have been put up for sale by the state-run Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF). In a statement on Tuesday TMSF listed properties belonging to TV 10 and IMC TV stations, and Meydan, Yarına Bakış, Yeni Hayat, Manşet, Demokrat Gebze and Bizim Kocaeli newspapers along with Radyo Nur radio station to be sold at auction. Meydan, Yarına Bakış, Yeni Hayat dailies were affiliated by the Gülen movement. Yarına Bakış and Yeni Hayat dailies were established by jobless journalists who were dismissed their own newspaper by government appointed trustees after the forceful seizure of Zaman daily by the government on March 4, 2016.

Nearly 1,000 companies with a total value of $12 billion in assets have been seized and then transferred to the TMSF since the coup attempt. The companies in question were mostly targeted as part of a sweeping state crackdown against the Gülen movement. Among the seized companies are more than 187 media outlets, most of which used to have critical editorial policies toward the government.

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 283 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, 258 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.

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