After discharging close to 1,700 officers and junior officers from the military, the Turkey government on Wednesday, ordered dozens of media organizations closed down, according to a decision printed in the Official Gazette. They included 45 newspapers, 16 television stations, 23 radio stations, three news agencies and 15 magazines. The list comprised many regional media outlets as well as several Gulen-linked media that had already been seized by the state.
Earlier, authorities issued warrants for the detention of 47 former executives or senior journalists of Turkey’s Zaman newspaper for alleged links to Gulen, who denies any involvement in the coup attempt. Such detentions have raised concerns that people could be targeted simply for criticizing the government.
Alpay is a former official of Turkey’s left-leaning, secularist main opposition CHP party. The Dogan news agency said police raided his home in Istanbul early on Wednesday and detained him after a 2-1/2 hour search of the property.
The media watchdog Reporters Without Borders condemned Turkey’s purges of journalists, saying they have assumed “increasingly alarming proportions.”
“Criticizing the government and working for media outlets that support the Gulen Movement do not constitute evidence of involvement in the failed coup,” said Johann Bihr, who heads the organization’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.
Turkey’s Justice Ministry denied an Amnesty International report alleging that some of those detained were tortured. Correct arrest and custody procedures were being applied under a three-month state of emergency announced last week, it said.
Reflecting tension with allies, Turkey has complained of a lack of strong support from European nations and the United States for the government’s sweeping efforts to weed out suspected plotters and Gulen’s supporters.
“Until now, we have not received the backing and the statements that we, the whole of Turkey, expect from these countries,” said Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, who is also Erdogan’s son-in-law.
A linchpin of Turkey’s former appeal was its now-moribund bid to join the European Union, and Turkish rhetoric described the country as a bridge between the West and Muslim countries. Turkey even sought to facilitate talks between archenemies Israel and Syria, though that effort collapsed after Israel’s 2008-2009 Gaza war.
“Turkey was a shining star in the region. It was a country whose word was listened to,” Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Turkey’s main opposition leader, said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday.
However, “this has been lost to a great extent” because Turkey “intervened in the internal affairs of other countries,” Kilicdaroglu said.
At the time, Turkey’s leaders said they had to adjust their policy of diplomatic outreach, dubbed “zero problems with neighbors,” because of rapidly unfolding, historic change.
Erdogan supported the revolt against Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak in 2011, but has frosty ties with military rulers who toppled Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi in 2013. Also in 2011, the Turkish leader backed NATO air strikes in Libya, which descended into more chaos after Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s death.
Although Turkey has couched foreign policy in terms of human rights, detractors claim Erdogan, a Sunni Muslim, was leaning toward a sectarian position in various conflicts and using language seen as critical of Shiite Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere.
Internally, the coup attempt by suspected supporters of Gulen exposed deep tensions in Turkey, fueled partly by concern that the president is pushing toward autocratic rule.
While Erdogan has presided over the ruling party’s extraordinary electoral success since 2002, he has also alienated secular Turks who believe he wants to impose an Islamic lifestyle.
A police crackdown on demonstrations in 2013 that began as a protest against the urban development of Istanbul’s Gezi Park killed a dozen people and undermined Turkey’s credentials as a stable democracy.
with agency inputs