Police forcefully disperse Zaman media group supporters
Turkish police dispersed a crowd of Zaman media group supporters on March 5, a day after an Istanbul court appointed a trustee panel to seize control of the group which has links to U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who is accused of leading a “terrorist organization” aiming to topple the government.
Police used tear gas to disperse the supporters of the group before the protesters ran to the side streets.
The trustees had entered the headquarters of the Feza Gazetecilik Media Group, which includes the Cihan News Agency, Today’s Zaman and Zaman dailies, Aksiyon magazine along with Zaman Kitap, under police escort. The police also used force against a group that had gathered in front of the building on March 5.
Meanwhile, the labor contracts of daily Zaman Editor-in-Chief Abdülhamit Bilici and Today’s Zaman columnist Bülent Keneş were terminated, according to reports.
Bilici arrived at the newspaper headquarters at midday on March 5 with his lawyer Hasan Günaydın, but both were denied entry to the building. While Bilici asked for a written notice of the decision, Günaydın wanted to take the minutes down. However, police officers insisted on the decision, saying they were informed that Bilici’s contract had been terminated.
Two days after the seizure on March 4, daily Zaman went to press under the management of the appointed trustees, identified as Sezai Şengönül, attorneys Tahsin Kaplan and Metin İlhan. The newspaper’s headline on March 6 was “Historic excitement at the bridge,” and focused on the completion of Istanbul’s third bridge over the Bosphorus which is set to be inaugurated in August.
On March 6, visitors to Zaman’s website were informed that the site was “being updated” and that it would provide “better quality and impartial service to its readers as soon as possible.”
Leading figures from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), in addition to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and lawmakers from his inner circle accuse Gülen of forming and heading a terrorist organization to topple the Turkish government, with the U.S.-based cleric’s alleged followers working as insiders in the police and other state institutions.