Turkish police raid critical online news outlet Sendika62.org

Turkish police raided the offices of Sendika62.org, a left-leaning online news outlet critical of the Turkish government, at 2:15 a.m. on Thursday, with prosecutors later issuing a warrant for its editor as part of an investigation into his articles, according to a report by Bianet.

The report said police broke down the door when only the building manager was present in the building. Police prevented lawyers who later arrived on the scene from interfering in their search and left the the office after the completion of the raid.

Sendika.org has been banned at least 61 times in Turkey since 2015, and it applied to Guinness World Records last year to have it officially recognised as the world’s most frequently banned website. The outlet, however, responded to the bans by changing to a new domain name each time and is presently to be found at Sendika62.org.

Sendika.org editor Ali Ergin Demirhan, the subject of the investigation, was also arrested in the wake of a referendum in 2017 for attempting to portray the referendum results as illegitimate,” Bianet said.

Also on Friday, economist Mahfi Eğilmez announced that he “found himself parted from” his employer, the NTV news channel, after he was targeted by one of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s economic advisors for being a “doom-mongerer” on the economy, according to a report by online news outlet Diken.

Erdoğan economy adviser Yiğit Bulut had written an opinion column last month saying that Bloomberg, NTV and Eğilmez were “systematically trying to create an environment of ‘We have gone/are about to go into a crisis’… DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM!”

Bulut also compared what he saw as an attempt to provoke an economic crisis to a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, saying that Eğilmez was collaborating with outside forces to bring Turkey down. Foreign banks and financial institutions were also involved in this financial coup attempt, Bulut added.

Meanwhile, the family home of Pınar Karagöz, known on Twitter as “Pucca,” was raided by police on Friday. Pucca wrote on her social media account that her residence was raided by the police for writing “I’m servant of Batı [West]” referring to her son, Batı.

“Of course I am a servant of Batı… What else would I be, I am his servant… My dear Batı, I am your servant, even your dog…” she wrote.

A Twitter user named @ak_secmeni posted a message saying: “Look, you pucca codenamed woman, you have the right to live in this country like any citizen, but if you cross the line and insult the Anatolian people, we as the grandchildren of Fatih [Sultan Mehmet] will make the West unbearable for you. End your era and open a new one.”

“They came to my father’s house today because of this tweet and searched me as well as for evidence related to the terrorist organisation. Batı is the name of my son, my son! Let’s see what happens under the state of emergency,” Karagöz tweeted.

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 243 journalists and media workers were in jail as of June 27, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 184 were under arrest pending trial while only 59 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.

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