Zaman newspaper: Defiant last edition as Turkey police raid

Saturday’s edition said Turkey’s press had experienced “one of the darkest days in its history”.

Turkish police raided Zaman’s offices hours after a court ruling placed it under state control, but managers were still able to get the edition to print.

Zaman readers have protested against the takeover outside the offices.

Women helps another woman who felt as Turkish anti-riot police officers use tear gas to disperse supporters in front of the headquarters of the Turkish daily newspaper Zaman in Istanbul on March 5, 2016

Police dispersed the demonstration, numbering about 500 people, with tear gas and water cannon. The newspaper’s supporters chanted “Free press cannot be silenced”.

A number of the journalists returned to work on Saturday, but some of them tweeted that:

they had lost access to internal servers and were not able to file articles
they were not able to access their email accounts
the newspaper’s editor-in-chief Abdulhamit Bilici and a leading columnist had been fired

One reporter, Abdullah Bozturk, said attempts were also under way to wipe the newspaper’s entire online archive.

The paper is closely linked to the Hizmet movement of influential US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, which Turkey says is a “terrorist” group aiming to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

Mr Gulen was once an ally of Mr Erdogan but the two fell out. Many Hizmet supporters have been arrested.
Image copyright Today’s Zaman newspaper
Image caption Zaman’s English-language newspaper carried a message of support
Image copyright EPA
Image caption The picture, taken by Zaman, appears to show a wounded woman outside the newspaper offices on Saturday

The court ruled on Friday that Zaman, which has a circulation of some 650,000, should now be run by administrators. No explanation was given.

The government in Ankara has come under increasing international criticism over its treatment of journalists.

The Saturday edition of the newspaper was printed before the government-backed administrators had taken control.

“The Constitution is suspended,” a headline in large font on a black background reads on the front page.

“The Turkish press has experienced one of the darkest days in its history,” the paper adds.

“Turkey’s mass circulation newspaper was seized despite Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s assurance that ‘free press is our red line.'”

The English-language edition echoed its sister paper with the headline: “Shameful day for free press in Turkey.”
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Media captionTurkish police fired tear gas to force their way past protesters

Police entered the building in Istanbul late on Friday, firing tear gas at protesters who had gathered outside.

Hundreds of Zaman supporters defied the police. One held a placard saying, “We will fight for a free press.”

“I believe that free media will continue even if we have to write on the walls,” Zaman’s editor-in-chief Abdulhamit Bilici said shortly before the raid on Friday. “I don’t think it is possible to silence media in the digital age.”

He was speaking to the Cihan news agency, which was also affected by the court order.

On Saturday afternoon, Zaman’s website was still online, and still carried articles that were critical of the government’s seizure.

Posted by on March 5, 2016. Filed under World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.