March 4, 2016 - Updated on March 8, 2016

Despotic Erdoğan seizes control of leading daily

True to form, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan today orchestrated an
Istanbul court decision to place Zaman, a leading daily newspaper that
supports the opposition Gülen movement, under state control.

The Turkish presidential office’s interference in the media has reached a
new level
,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire
said. “It is absolutely illegitimate and intolerable that Erdoğan has used the
judicial system to take control of a great newspaper in order to eliminate the
Gülen community’s political base.
“This ideological and unlawful operation shows how Erdoğan is now
moving from authoritarianism to all-out despotism. Not content with
throwing journalists in prison for ‘supporting terrorism’ or having them
sentenced to pay heavy fines for ‘insulting the ‘head of state,’ he is now
going further by taking control of Turkey’s biggest opposition newspaper

With a print run of more than 600,000, Zaman supports the religious
movement led by Fethullah Gülen, who was closely allied with Erdoğan
until they fell out in 2012. Since then, the authorities have been suspending
the licences of pro-Gülen media outlets and have been bringing charges
against their journalists.

Turkey is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.