The criticism against the Turkish government's attempts to eliminate opposition media has been an ongoing issue during the rule of the AKP government and increased in the recent past. Through decrees declared following the 15 July 2016 failed coup attempt, media outlets in connection with the Gulen organizations and the Kurdish media outlets were closed down.
The conglomerates seized by the Saving Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) for their debts, owned many print outlets and tv channels. Sabah, Takvim, Star dailies, Star TV, Kral TV, ATV, Cine-5 TV; later Akşam, Güneş dailies, Show TV, SkyTürk TV, Turkey's largest digital platform Digitürk, radios and magazines were under the control of TMSF.
During the 15-year rule of AKP, businessmen close to the government sometimes entered tenders as sole entrants and later owned media outlets."
These businessmen were provided with USD 750 million by state banks, in order to buy these outlets. The parliamentary question regarding "if these funds had been paid back to the banks" has not been answered by the parliament based on the claim that it was a "trade secret."
Trustees were appointed to Gulenist-affiliated media outlets and companies: Koza-Ipek Media Group, which owned Bugun and Millet dailies as well as Kanalturk TV and Bugun TV; Feza Media Group which owned Zaman, Today's Zaman and Meydan dailies, Cihan News Agency and Aksiyon magazine etc.
The trustees shut down Bugun and Millet dailies. Public Satellite Communications and Cable TV Operations Company Turksat has canceled the broadcasts of Bugün TV, Kanaltürk TV, Samanyolu TV, S News TV, Mehtap TV, Irmak TV.
Ozgur Gundem daily was shut down by the government based on for allegedly conducting propaganda on behalf of the PKK and acting as the organization's media organ. The police raided the newsroom, taking 22 employees into custody. Özgür Gündem’s editor-in-chief and chief editor were arrested.
The Editors-in-Chief on Watch campaign of Özgür Gündem daily had begun on May 3, 2016 and ended on August 7, 2016 in order to support to show solidarity and defend press freedom against oppressions and investigations. Daily was closed through the Statutory Decree No. 675 issued under the State of Emergency.
The trials of the Özgür Gündem daily continue. Investigations have been launched into 50 of the 56 Editors-in-Chief on Watch who have participated in the solidarity campaign with Özgür Gündem. In 11 of these cases, the court has ordered not to prosecute and in 38 cases, a lawsuit was filed against them for "propagandizing for a terrorist organization". A total of 188 months, 15 days of imprisonment and a fine of 67 thousand TL were issued.In these cases, 4 people were acquitted. In this cases, co-director of Hafıza Merkezi (Truth, Justice and Memory Center), Murat Çelikkan was sentenced to 1 year and 6 months of imprisonment. After being imprisoned for 68 days, he was released on probation. Journalist Ayşe Düzkan was also sentenced to 18 months in prison and as of April 2019 she is currently in prison.
The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Representative to Turkey and BİA Media Monitoring Reporter Erol Önderoğlu, writer Ahmet Nesin and Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) Chair Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur-Fincancı also participated in the "Editors-in-Chief on Watch" campaign, then a lawsuit was filed against them for "propagandizing for a terrorist organization. They had 10-days pre-trial detention, then they have released. Yet, the hearings have still been continuing by April 2019.
In 2016, the indictment of 19 people from the Cumhuriyet newspaper, including executives, writers and other employees, was approved in 2017 for aiding a terrorist organization as a non-member.” In 2018, the decision of the case was announced. According to the decision announced in April 2018, for 15 people, a total of 81 years people were sentenced to 45 days of imprisonment, three of which were acquitted. Can Dündar and İlhan Tanır's files were separated. Journalists Akın Atalay, Orhan Erinç, Kadri Gürsel, Güray Öz, Musa Kart, Aydın Engin, Hikmet Çetinkaya, Ahmet Şık, Kemal Güngör, Hakan Kara, Önder Çelik, Ahmet Kemal Aydoğdu, Emre İper, Bülent Utku were convicted and judicial control was granted.On February 19, 2019, the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice, 3rd Penal Chamber (the court of appeal) has upheld the verdict on the Cumhuriyet newspaper’s case. Those who were sentenced to to prison for less than five years: Kadri Gürsel, Güray Öz, Musa Kart, Mustafa Kemal Güngör, Emre İper, Önder Çelik, Bülent Utku, Hakan Kara. On April 25, 2019, Musa Kart, Emre İper, Önder Çelik, Mustafa Kemal Güngör, Hakan Kara and Güray Öz were again imprisoned for the execution of their sentences.
Post 15 July Coup Attempt/State of Emergency
32 Decrees were declared under the state of emergency on 20 July 2016, following the coup attempt on 15 July 2016. On July 19, 2018, the government ended the state of emergency after seven three-month renewal.A total of 620 press credentials have been canceled in the first two months of the state of emergency, as well as passports belonging to some journalists.
The decrees [668 (27.07.2016), 675 (29.10.2016), 677 (22.11.2016), 675 (29.10.2016) ve 670 (17.08.2016), 689 ( 29.04. 2017),693 (25.08.2017) ve 695 (24.12.2017) and 701(08.07.2018) ] declared during the state of emergency, brought the shutdowns of 6 news agencies, 41 radios, 38 TVs, 70 newspapers, 20 magazines, and 29 printing houses and distribution channels (in total 204 news agencies). The decisions to shut down of 17 newspapers, 4 radios, 4 TV and a total of 25 media organizations under decrees were cancelled.
During the OHAL period in total 179 media agencies (53 newspaper, 34 TV, 37 Radio station, 20 magazines and 6 news agencies) and 29 publishing house were shut down.
These organizations consisted of Gulenist-affiliated and Kurdish media.
It was stated in the decrees that the estates and assets of the shutdown companies would be transferred to the treasury, that the debt of these companies would not be paid for and that there would be no judicial remedy for the shutdowns.
According to updated OHAL report of IHOP, 134327 civil servants have been dismissed from their positions. Only 3981 of them (2.9 percent of total), were turned in their positions.
In total 7508, 6081 academics and 1427 administrative personnel were fired from universities. Only 185 were sent back to work.
The number of those who are in jail based on the state of emergency executive decrees is over 50,000.
Kapatılan televizyonlar ve gazeteler belli oldu! (28.07.2016). Accessed on 15.01.2019
Turkish linguist arrested on terror charges in Özgür Gündem probe
Türkiye'de medya çeşitliliği tehdit altında'. Accessed on 15.01.2019
Cumhuriyet Davası Sanıkları: Hoşçakalın
Turkish linguist arrested on terror charges in Özgür Gündem probe (01.11.16). Accessed on 15.01.2019