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Turkey widens media crackdown

July 28, 2016

Turkey has closed down dozens of media outlets in a widening crackdown following the failed July 15 coup attempt. A major shake-up of the mililtary is expected on Thursday as well.

Türkei Demo für Medienfreiheit in Istanbul
Image: Getty Images/AFP/O. Kose

Turkey continues to broaden its crackdown on media with suspected links to the Gulen movement, which the government accuses of orchestrating a failed July 15 coup attempt.

On Wednesday, the official gazette said it ordered the closure of three news agencies, 16 television stations, 23 radio stations, 45 newspapers, 15 magazines and 29 publishers.

The newspapers were mostly small regional websites but included well-known national titles.

Among the national papers closed were "Zaman," its English language version "Today's Zaman" and "Bugun." These titles and others tied to a Gulen-linked holding company had already been put under state administration earlier this year.

Zaman had been the country's top-circulating paper before being taken over. It was once pro-government before becoming sharply critical in 2013.

Cihan, a major news agency, was also ordered shut.

The opposition "Taraf" newspaper was also closed down. It is best known for being the first to publish documents related to an alleged coup plot that led to a series of trails that severely weakened the secular military establishment.

Gulenist prosecutors and judges are alleged to have fabricated evidence in the trials, which ran from roughly 2008-11. The verdicts against military officers were later reversed after relations between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Gulen movement turned into open war.

The television stations closed down included Samanyolu, a well-known Gulenist-linked station. But the list also included Tuna Shopping TV, a television shopping network.

AFP news agency reported that IMC TV, a liberal, pro-Kurdish news agency that has no known links to the Gulen movement had been closed down. However, IMC TV's website was still running and their reporting on the closures did not include their own agency.

The mass closure of so many media and publishing outlets comes amid an intensified crackdown that has already led to nearly 100 arrest warrants being issued against journalists this week.

Turkey after the coup

More than 60,000 soldiers, police, judges, teachers and civil servants have been arrested, suspended or put under investigation as part of a wide reaching crackdown criticized by the United States, European Union and human rights organizations.

On Thursday, the High Military Council chaired by the government will meet to implement sweeping changes to the armed forces.

cw/msh (AFP, Reuters)