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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.