The seizure by police of one of Turkey’s largest media organizations critical of the ruling AKP Party, just days before a general election has provoked strong criticism and added to concerns over media freedom.
Social Media in Turkey
October 2015: Police seize the Ipek Koza conglomerate, one of one of Turkey’s largest media organizations, days before the November 1 general election; reports that Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets were blocked following a devastating October 10 terrorist attack in Ankara that killed 102 people who had gathered for a peace rally
September 2015: Istanbul prosecutors launch investigation into one of the country’s biggest media groups, Doğan, for alleged terrorist propaganda. The move followed raids on the newspaper Nokta and the blocking of the daily Cumhuriyet’s website.
September 2015: Reporters Without Borders on Turkey: “Censorship is becoming increasingly widespread as the security situation continues to deteriorate amid a major political crisis”
May 2015: About 80,000 websites were reportedly blocked in the country as of this date
April 2015: Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube were temporarily banned until they complied with requests to restrict access to sensitive content. In the first half of 2015, 92 percent of all court orders to remove content received by Twitter worldwide originated in Turkey.
March 2015: Laws granting authorities the power to block Internet sites and allowing access to user data without a warrant are reinstated after the Constitutional Court had overturned those provisions in October 2014
May-June 2013: During the highly publicized “Occupy Gezi” protests in Istanbul's Taksim Square, the number of Turkish Twitter users rose from two to eight million. The role of social media in weakening the ruling party’s control over the flow of information led to new laws to censor content.
Sources: Freedom House, Reporters Without Borders
Police used tear gas and pepper spray during the raid that has been condemned by all of Turkey’s main opposition parties, accusing President Erdogan and the AKP of seeking to tighten its grip on the media ahead of the November 1 election.
Pro-Kurdish HDP Party leader Selahattin Demirtas warned Turkey is becoming a mafia-like state. He says it is unbelievable that a state; a government can act so, like a mafia, like an illegal organization right in the public eye. He added, it also raises suspicions just a couple of days before the election.
The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, described the raid as a disturbing illustration of the dangerous path Turkey has undertaken in relation to media freedom.
But the AKP insists the judiciary is independent and the raid on the TV station was part of a court order seizing control of Ipek Koza conglomerate, which owns TV stations and newspapers along with 20 other companies.
The company is accused of being linked to the Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen who lives in self-imposed exile in the Untied States. Prosecutors accuse Gulen of running a terrorist organization.
Gulen and his followers were once close Erdogan and AKP Party allies, but they have become bitter rivals.