'Black day for democracy': Turkish police raid opposition newspaper

ANKARA, Turkey -- Police, using tear gas and water cannons, on Friday raided the headquarters of Turkey's largest-circulation newspaper, hours after a court placed it under the management of trustees.

See Full Article

The move against the paper, which is linked to an opposition cleric, heightened concerns over deteriorating press freedoms in the country.

Police dispersed protesters who had gathered outside of the opposition Zaman newspaper's Istanbul headquarters before breaking down a gate and entering the building to escort the court-appointed managers and evict newspaper workers.

The court action against Zaman newspaper was brought by a public prosecutor and came amid an intensified government campaign against the moderate Islamic movement led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. It accuses the movement of attempting to bring down the government.

The move, which also affects Zaman's sister newspaper, English-language Today's Zaman, and a news agency linked to the group, further reduces the pool of opposition television and newspapers in the country, which is dominated by pro-government television channels and newspapers.

Zaman Editor-in-Chief Abdulhamid Bilici addressed his colleagues on the grounds of the newspaper before police had stormed the building. He called the court decision a "black day for democracy" in Turkey as journalists and other newspaper workers held up signs that read: "Don't touch my newspaper" and chanted "free press cannot be silenced!"

Today's Zaman chief editor, Sevgi Akarcesme, broadcast the police raid on Periscope before police confiscated her phone.

"A police officer grabbed my phone forcefully," she wrote on Twitter.

The court decision sparked international outrage.

"I see this as an extremely serious interference with media freedom which should have no place in a democratic society," said Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. "It is the latest in a string of unacceptable and undue restrictions of media freedom in Turkey."

Reporters without Borders issued a strongly-worded statement, accusing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of "moving from authoritarianism to all-out despotism."

The U.S.-based watchdog, Freedom House, called on the European Union and the United States to speak out against the move. The EU, in particular, has been accused of keeping mute about human rights abuses and the deteriorating freedoms in Turkey because of the country's crucial role in curtailing the flow of migrants to Europe.

"The appointment of trustees to run Zaman amounts to a government takeover of a private media outlet, and is a flagrant violation of both rule of law and freedom of the press," said Daniel Calingaert, Freedom's House executive vice-president.

Gulen, who has lived in the United States since 1999, was once Erdogan's ally but the two have fallen out.

The government accuses the Gulen movement of orchestrating corruption allegations in December 2013 against ministers and people close to Erdogan as a plot to overthrow it. Authorities have since branded the movement a terror organization, although it is not known to have carried out acts of violence.

Gulen was placed on trial in absentia last year on charges of attempting to topple the government.

The government has cracked down on the movement since, purging civil servants suspected of ties to it, and businesses have been seized.

Earlier on Friday, police detained four senior officials of Boydak Holding company, which has ties to Gulen, over allegations that it provided financial support to the movement. The state-run Anadolu Agency says police in the central city of Kayseri detained Boydak Holding's chairman, chief executive officer and two board members.

In October, courts similarly placed four media organizations, owned by a company linked to Gulen under trusteeship, turning them into pro-government outlets.


Latest Canada & World News

  • Prince Harry 'grateful' for chance to return to Caribbean

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- Prince Harry will return next month to Barbados, where he previously charmed locals with his dance moves. On his last official visit to the island, in 2010, the prince was keen to embrace local culture and attempted the Calypso at a fundraising event. Source
  • Ill crew forces British Airways flight to land in Vancouver

    World News Toronto Sun
    VANCOUVER — British Airways says a plane travelling from San Francisco to London diverted to Vancouver after members of the crew reported feeling ill. The airline said 22 crew members and about two passengers were taken to hospital for medical checks as a precaution. Source
  • Torture-murder banker blew $1M on coke, hookers

    World News Toronto Sun
    HONG KONG — A Hong Kong jury watched chilling video Tuesday of a British banker torturing an Indonesian woman and then talking for hours about how he repeatedly raped her and then killed her without feeling guilt or emotion. Source
  • Parents charged after baby consumes fentanyl

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Two parents are in police custody facing several charges after their baby boy suffered a possible overdose of the powerful opioid fentanyl. Const. Jason Michalyshen said paramedics were called to a Winnipeg home last week and found the nine-month-old in critical condition. Source
  • Dennis Oland walks free after being given bail pending appeal

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    FREDERICTON - Dennis Oland held hands with his wife and children as he exited by the front door of the Fredericton courthouse Tuesday, free on bail a day after an appeal court quashed his murder conviction and ordered a new trial. Source
  • N.J. toddlers survive plunge off bridge with father

    World News Toronto Sun
    The night began with a kidnapping. At 6:55 p.m. Monday, police in Pequannock, a small town in northern New Jersey, received a call that a man had threatened to harm his family, local authorities said. He had argued with his wife, the woman told police, then drove away with their two young sons -- age 2 and 4 -- in a white SUV. Source
  • ‘He was a total f---ing beast’; Trump allegedly partied with teens at cocaine-fuelled parties in the 90s: Report

    World News Toronto Sun
    Donald Trump allegedly hosted wild cocaine-fuelled sex parties with underage girls in the 1990s, according to The Daily Beast. Long before he was a Republican presidential candidate, Trump used to rent out suites in Manhattan's Plaza Hotel so older rich men could meet - and have sex with - teen models as young as 15, say two sources. Source
  • Husband-wife death squad claims 800 kills

    World News Toronto Sun
    Ace and Sheila’s mandate is simple: blow away as many junkies and drug dealers as they can. The price? $100 a pop. The terrible twosome are just two of the death squad enforcers in Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. Source
  • Restaurant firing workers who posted video about spitting in food

    World News Toronto Sun
    PHILADELPHIA - A Philadelphia fast-food restaurant says workers will be fired after a Facebook video shows them joking about having sex and spitting in customers’ food, among other unsanitary acts. But one former Checkers employee who posted the video says it was simply a publicity stunt gone wrong. Source
  • What we know about the nurse charged with 8 counts of murder

    Canada News CTV News
    A nurse in southwestern Ontario faces eight counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of elderly patients who were in her care over the past decade. Here is what we know, so far, about 49-year-old Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer of Woodstock, Ont. Source