Zaman daily’s Ankara office given to Erdoğan media group without any tender

Zaman media building which was seized by the government in March 2016 in Ankara.

Pro-government newspaper Akit reported on Sunday that the Ankara office of the Zaman Media Group, which was seized unlawfully in March 2016, was sold to the Turkuvaz media group without any tender. The Turkuvaz media group is run by Serhat Albayrak, brother of Berat Albayrak, energy minister and son-in-law of Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

A video on the paper’s website shows two broadcasting vehicles in the building’s parking lot while a security guard is posted at the gate.

A number of TV and radio stations that were closed down by the government in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 due to their links to the faith-based Gülen movement have been sold to Turkuvaz without a tender, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on May 4.

A total of 86 media outlets including TV and radio stations, newspapers, magazines and news agencies were closed by government decree due to alleged links to the Gülen movement following July 15, 2016 as the government accuses the movement of masterminding the coup attempt. The movement strongly denies the accusation.

Some of these media outlets, such as Samanyolu TV, Kanaltürk TV, Burç FM, Kanaltürk Radyo, Radyo Mehtap and Radyo Cihan, have been sold to the Turkuvaz media without a tender, according to Cumhuriyet.

The Medyaradar.net news website reported in September 2016 that the building that served as the headquarters of the Zaman newspaper, along with Today’s Zaman, the Cihan news agency and other media outlets of the Feza Media Group, in the Yenibosna neighborhood of İstanbul would soon be used by the state-owned Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) as an office.

On March 4, 2016 police raided the headquarters of Zaman, Turkey’s highest circulating newspaper, after it used tear gas, plastic bullets and water cannons on hundreds of supporters gathered outside the Zaman building and enforced a court-ordered seizure that appointed trustees to the Feza Media Group, amid increasing pressure on critical media groups by the government.

Scores of former Zaman employees were detained over suspected links to US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who the government accuses of masterminding the failed coup attempt last July.

More than a thousand companies and 4,888 properties that were owned by people allegedly linked to the Gülen movement have been seized by the government.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 280 journalists and media workers are now in jails as of October 8, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 255 are arrested pending trial, only 25 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 134 journalists who live 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 more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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