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Top court rules against putting state-run news agency under Erdoğan’s control

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Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled against a presidential decree that put Turkey’s oldest media institution, the Anadolu news agency, under the control of the Communications Directorate of the Turkish Presidency, citing a contravention of the Turkish Constitution.

The Presidential Communications Directorate took control of Anadolu, according to a presidential decree published in the Official Gazette in April 2019. The move was part of a series of regulations that came after adopting an executive presidential system in a narrowly backed referendum in 2017.

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) challenged the move at the Constitutional Court, which announced its decision on Wednesday.

“The control of the Anadolu Agency by a directorate under the Turkish Presidency does not accord with Anadolu Agency’s autonomy and may harm the objectivity of its publications,” the court said in a statement.

The statement added that such direct control undermines the institutional independence of the agency’s organization and human resources.

Only two judges voted against, while the other 13 members voted in favor of scrapping the presidential takeover.

Anadolu, established by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, in 1920, has drawn harsh criticism from the opposition for its partisan coverage favoring President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling party while giving little or no coverage to opposition parties.

Erdoğan is accused of silencing independent media outlets in the country as well as turning others into pro-government news outlets. Following a failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016, dozens of journalists were arrested and hundreds of news outlets were closed down on trumped-up terrorism or coup charges.

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