Zaman to print in exile after govt takeover

Zaman to print in exile after govt takeover

Today’s news on Zaman Almanya’s website. Source: Zaman Almanya

Turkey’s biggest-selling newspaper Zaman says it will continue to publish in opposition to the government from Germany after its offices were taken over by the state in Istanbul, according to the editor-in-chief of Zaman Almanya (Germany).

Ankara seized control of the newspaper on Friday as part of a crackdown against supporters of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is an influential opponent of President Tayyip Erdogan. Zaman has alleged links with Gulen.

“As of today, we are printing a version of Zaman that has nothing to do with Zaman [in Turkey] because it has been forcibly taken over by the state,” editor Sueleyman Bag said. “We will print an independent newspaper. We still have not addressed the question of how we do that. This is a new challenge for us.”

Monday’s Zaman Almanya carried a black front page with the headline: “The constitution is abolished.” In contrast the Turkish edition dropped its criticism of the government and ran positive coverage of Erdogan. The German edition has 14,300 subscribers to its print edition in Germany, which has around three million people of Turkish origin. The lead story online showed a photo of a veiled woman pressing her hand against her bleeding face outside the newspaper’s offices, which were raided on Friday by police who used water cannon and tear gas to scatter those protesting in favour of free speech.

Rights groups and European leaders have condemned the seizure, saying it infringed fundamental press freedom in Turkey, which was applying for EU membership. The Turkish authorities claimed the seizure was part of an investigation into illicit financing from the “Gulenist terror group”.

“He who wants to join the European Union must support freedom of expression, freedom of the press and must tolerate criticism,” said German Green Party leader Cem Oezdemir, who was born in Germany to Turkish parents.

Ankara has chosen an ideal time to muzzle its critics as its leaders are currently in talks where the EU is asking for Turkish help to resolve the migrant crisis, with Chancellor Angela Merkel facing regional elections in a few days. A German spokesman said Merkel had raised concerns press freedom with Davutoglu during the talks in Brussels.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz said he told Davutoglu that press freedom was “a non-negotiable element of our European identity” if Ankara wished to join. He said that the Syrian and Iraqi migrant crisis meant the EU was forced to work with Turkey despite the “total disagreement” on some policies.

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