‘Press freedom still a big problem in Turkey’

‘Press freedom still a big problem in Turkey’

WASHINGTON - Hürriyet Daily News
‘Press freedom still a big problem in Turkey’

The local papers in Samsun have signed a joint declaration to limit the articles to be published in the papers. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

All 33 employees of a local newspaper in Turkey’s north have quit after the owner signed a protocol curbing the scope of news that would appear in the paper.

Journalists working at the “Hedef Halk” newspaper that publishes in the Black Sea province of Samsun said the paper’s owner, together with the owners of eight other local papers, signed a protocol which said the papers would no longer publish reports regarding blackmail, theft, murder, suicide, traffic accidents, rape and sexual abuse.

Hedef Halk employees said the protocol signed by the owner Sabahattin Poyrazoğlu constituted direct interference in the principle of press freedom and objected to its implementation. The paper’s entire staff, including Editor-in-Chief Yener Cabbar, resigned from the paper to show their discontent with the owner’s decision.

Criticizing abuse cases

Cabbar said he was a columnist on the paper’s third page, where the stories restricted by the protocol generally appear. “I would no longer be able to criticize rape and abuse cases or draw attention to them if the protocol is implemented,” he said.

Poyrazoğlu convened with the employees after the paper stopped publishing due to the resignations and agreed to withdraw his signature from the protocol.

The paper’s employees returned to work after Poyrazoğlu’s announcement and continued publishing news as usual.

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