The trustees who took over the Turkish newspaper Zaman published a pro-government issue Sunday without informing the newspaper’s journalists.
“The new edition of the newspaper is written in a pro-government fashion, and they did not let us to do our work”, said Abdullah Ayasun. “It is obvious that this issue of the newspaper was made outside Zaman.”
Turkish police used tear gas and water cannons Friday to disperse a crowd that gathered during a raid on the headquarters of prominent Turkish newspaper Zaman which is based in Istanbul. The raid followed a court verdict to place the newspaper under state control.
Zaman journalists have reported that they still do not have access to the newspaper’s system and have not resumed their work since police seized the building.
The trustees terminated the contract of Zaman editor in chief Abdulhamit Bilici and plan to appoint a new editor-in-chief.
“Most likely, the majority of the staff will leave … more than 1,000 journalists will be unemployed”, Ayasun told Daily News Egypt.
The newspaper is seen to be close to the Gülen movement which has faced rigorous suppression by the Erdoğan government.
The Turkish government also closed the broadcast centres of television channels IMC TV and Bengü Türk before the parliamentary elections in November. In March, the television stations Bugün TV and Kanal Türk and Bugün and Millet newspapers were also shut down by the government.
Zaman is owned by Feza Gazetecilik, a private company who also run Cihan news agency, which is one of the top news agencies in the country along with state-run media agency, Anadolu and Doğan. Feza Gazetecilik also runs a weekly journal, Aksiyon, and Today’s Zaman, which is an English newspaper.
An Istanbul court decided to appoint trustees for the newspaper early Friday.
According to Turkish official agency Anadolu, the newspaper is accused of supporting the “Gulenist terror organisation”, headed by Fethullah Gülen, who has opposed the Erdoğan government since 2013.
The incident has sparked widespread international backlash from governments and NGOs. Human Right Watch (HRW) condemned the seizure of the newspaper, describing it as an “attempt by the government to eradicate opposition by silencing critical media”.
Amnesty International said the government’s takeover of Zaman newspaper is another episode in the Turkish authorities’ ongoing crackdown on dissenting media.
“By lashing out and seeking to rein in critical voices, President Erdoğan’s government is steamrolling over human rights,” Zaman Today website reported Amnesty International’s Turkey expert Andrew Gardner as saying.