One of Turkey’s few remaining opposition media outlets will soon be managed by court-appointed trustees, a move that has heightened concerns over press freedom in a country dominated by pro-government newspapers and TV channels, The Associated Press notes.
On Friday, a court in Istanbul ordered the Zaman newspaper to replace its editorial board and top management with court appointees. It’s part of a government crackdown on a U.S.-based Islamic scholar, NPR’s Peter Kenyon reports:
“Prosecutors alleged that the paper is a mouthpiece for self-exiled Turk Fetullah Gulen, a former ally of the ruling AK party who now stands accused of trying to undermine the government.
“Amnesty International criticized Turkey for ‘lashing out and seeking to rein in critical voices,’ and the European Commissioner for Human Rights called the takeover ‘the latest in a string of unacceptable and undue restrictions on media freedom in Turkey.’ “
The new trustees will also manage Zaman‘s English-language sister newspaper, Today’s Zaman, and a linked news agency, the AP writes.
In October, the wire service adds, four other media organizations were placed under the management of trustees and turned into pro-government media outlets.
Amid the dwindling numbers of opposition outlets, the new court order has prompted protests, the AP writes:
“Hundreds of people gathered outside of the paper’s headquarters in Istanbul in a show of support.
“Zaman Editor-in-Chief Abdulhamid Bilici addressed his colleagues on the grounds of the newspaper, calling 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!’ “