Caretakers take over two Gülen-linked dailies after TV channels
ISTANBULA day after caretakers shut down two television channels belonging to the Koza-İpek Group, control of the dailies Bugün and Millet were taken over on Oct. 29, hours after their printing were halted in the late hours of Oct. 28.
Caretakers appointed to the Bugün and Millet newspapers started their duties on Oct. 29, and removed Bugün Editor-in-Chief Erhan Başyurt in the morning hours of the same day, a day after the caretakers had forcefully entered the building of the media group, which also includes TV channels Kanaltürk and Bugün TV.
While declaring the decision of the removal of Başyurt and conveying the new working system, one of the caretakers referred to the Oct. 29 edition of daily Bugün, which was halted from being printed, as “disgraceful.”
“What I want to ask about is our editorial independence. For example, we made a newspaper yesterday,” said the daily’s managing editor, when he was challenged by one of the caretakers, who said, “You made a disgraceful daily,” according to footage taken by one of the daily’s employees that was shared on a social media platform.
An argument erupted following the caretaker’s remark, after which a journalist challenged the caretaker by saying that the daily was their honor.
The caretaker then immediately asked for the journalist’s name, and said directly to the journalist’s face that his employment contract had been terminated, ordering waiting police officers to escort him out of the building.
Two dailies prevented from printing
A caretaker panel, which was appointed on Oct. 27 and started working at the media group on Oct. 28 according to the company’s lawyers, examined the Bugün and Millet dailies’ Oct. 29 editions and declared they were not appropriate for printing.
Başyurt said they had sent their newspaper to print at around 5 p.m. on Oct. 28 but they were delayed until 9 p.m. by technical problems.
“We finished our daily’s pages at 3 p.m. and handed over the newspaper to the [printing] press at 5 p.m. They stalled us until 9 p.m. They said there was a technical problem. Then they said they would not print it as there was a letter,” Başyurt told Samanyolu News Channel late Oct. 28.
“Robbery with trustee panel,” was Bugün’s headline, while Millet adorned its headline with “Bloody coup against free media.”
All of the pages of both dailies were published online via their Twitter accounts.
Meanwhile, on the same day, police built barricades before the HQ building in Istanbul’s Mecidiyeköy neighborhood and allowed people into the building only after checking their identity cards.
Staff working at Kanaltürk and Bugün TV channels and dailies Bugün and Millet could only enter their workplace after crossing a police barricade erected in front of the building and after having their IDs checked.
Employees from the two TV channels were seen sitting at nearby cafes on Oct. 29, as their programs were cancelled and “they had no work to do inside the building.”
The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Oct. 26 ordered the Koza-İpek Group to be placed under the management of a trustee panel while an investigation continues into the group’s purported ties to U.S.-based scholar Fethullah Gülen, a former government ally. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) now accuse Gülen of heading a purported illegal organization that Erdoğan believes is trying to topple the AKP government with followers working as insiders in the police, the judiciary and other state institutions.