Turkish newspaper acquired by pro-gov’t group lays off scores of employees

A woman waits near the gate of the Hurriyet newspaper's headquarters at the Dogan media group complex in Istanbul on March 22, 2018. A top Turkish businessman with close ties to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to buy Turkey's largest media holding, a statement said on March 22, raising fears of a new tightening of government control on the press. Dogan Holding said in a statement that talks had begun on the sale of Dogan Media Group to the Demiroren Group of magnate Erdogan Demiroren for around $1 billion (810 million euros). / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

Turkey’s prominent Hürriyet newspaper, which was purchased last year by the pro-government Demirören group, has laid off nearly 50 employees including correspondents, editors and writers, the Diken news website reported on Wednesday.

The decision was made by the owners rather than management, and even Executive Editor Vahap Munyar only became aware of it upon a phone call from one of the employees who was dismissed, according to the report.

The e-mail accounts of the employees were immediately shut down, and they lost access to the newspaper’s computer system.

Serkan Ocak, one of the journalists who were laid off, tweeted that he learned about his firing upon noticing that his e-mail account had become inaccessible.

Last year Hürriyet was sold to Demirören Holding in a move that was perceived as a further consolidation of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s monopolistic grasp on Turkey’s traditional media.

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