Turkish government closes down 3 more newspapers and a TV station

Three newspapers — Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, Halkın Nabzı and the Diyarbakır-based Welat — along with the Avantaj television station were closed down by the Turkish government led by Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in an emergency decree published in Turkey’s Official Gazette (Resmi Gazete) on Sunday.

Statutory decree no. 701, issued under the state of emergency (OHAL), also ordered the closure of 12 associations.

The decree stated that the media outlets and the associations were shuttered due to “their links and associations with terrorist organizations or structures, formations or groups that have been determined by the National Security Council to be operating against the national security of the state.”

Under the decree, all assets, rights and documents of and debt owed to the shuttered media institutions and associations were transferred to the Treasury. No demand or claim shall be made to the Treasury in relation to debts of the shuttered media outlets and associations.

In March 2018 Özgürlükçü Demokrasi headquarters was raided by the police, and the newspaper’s entire operation was taken over by the authorities. In addition to the newspaper, Gün Matbaacılık, the printing house that published both Özgürlükçü Demokrasi and Welat, was also seized.

Fourteen employees of Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, including Managing Editor İshak Yasul, are charged with “membership in a terrorist organization,” “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “publishing statements of terrorist organizations.” Six of the 14 journalists are currently in pre-trial detention.

More than 190 media outlets have been closed down through emergency decrees since the declaration of the state of emergency in July 2016.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 240 journalists and media workers were in jail as of July 7, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 179 were under arrest pending trial while only 61 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 143 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. (SCF with P24)

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