CHP leader says Zaman takeover violation of media freedom

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CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), slammed on Friday a court decision to appoint trustees to take over the management of the Feza Media Group, calling it a “violation of media freedom” and evidence that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the government consider “all dissenting voices as criminal organizations.”

The Feza Media Group includes Turkey’s biggest-selling newspaper Zaman, Today’s Zaman and the Cihan news agency.

“The decision to appoint trustees that was made by a group of judicial bodies to serve the expectations and the ambitions of the [Justice and Development Party] AK Party and the Presidency is a violation of law targeting media freedom,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Mahmut Tanal, a deputy from the CHP, criticized the appointment of trustees to the Feza Media Group on his Twitter account, saying that it is an attack on democracy and state of law. “An attack on Zaman equals an attack on citizens’ freedom of information. They are afraid of what the citizens might find out about them. This attack on Zaman also equals an attack on freedom of thought and expression,” Tanal said.

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) parliamentary group deputy chairman, Oktay Vural, told Today’s Zaman that Turkey has turned into a country of trustees. “The president already acts as if he is appointed as a trustee to the Prime Ministry. The president’s advisers are also acting as if they are appointed as trustees to the remaining ministries. Unfortunately, there is [almost] no free media outlet in Turkey anymore. They are capable of appointing trustees wherever and whenever they want. We are becoming a country that is being ruled by appointed trustees. This is an operation that aims to intimidate and destroy [free media],” Vural stated.

Former Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay also spoke to Today’s Zaman on Friday, saying the country is heading towards a very dangerous place. “This [latest act of trustee appointment] has moved beyond a political fight. We are heading towards chaos where all rules, principles and institutions are being destroyed.”

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