Turkish police raid critical media HQ, shut down live broadcast

Turkish police raid critical media HQ, shut down live broadcast

Turkish police raid critical media HQ, shut down live broadcast


Istanbul police used force on Oct. 28 to enter the headquarters and seize control of media outlets owned by the Koza-İpek Group, dramatically breaking into the main broadcasting room and shutting down two TV stations owned by the group.

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 is ongoing into the group’s purported ties to the U.S.-based cleric Fetullah 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 Justice and Development Party (AKP) government with followers working as insiders in the police, the judiciary and other state institutions.

The police fired tear gas and water cannons at the crowd gathered in support outside the media group’s office building in Istanbul’s Şişli district at around 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 28, two days after the initial court ruling, Doğan News Agency reported. The building is used by Kanaltürk TV, Bugün TV, daily Millet, and daily Bugün, all of which are owned by the Koza-İpek Group.

Breaking down the iron gates of the media group’s compound, the police unplugged the wires and halted the TV stations’ live broadcasts, escorting the newly appointed trustees into the building after scuffling with hundreds of employees and supporters of the Koza-İpek Group gathered outside in support.

The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, meanwhile, launched an inquiry on Oct. 28 into some protesters outside the building on charges of “resisting security personnel,” “preventing security personnel from doing their official duty,” and “inciting crime,” according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.

A dispute also flared up between Bugün TV Editor-in-Chief Tarık Toros and the trustees who entered the main broadcasting room of Kanaltürk and Bugün TV, with Toros declaring that no one could meddle in their broadcasting.

Bugün TV editor-in-chief removed from office

After the channel’s broadcast cut to black, Toros was forcefully removed from the building. He was handed a letter stating that he had been removed from his post. 

One of the appointed trustees, Ümit Önal, said they faced fierce resistance from the company’s employees, Anadolu Agency reported. 

Koza İpek Group of Companies Chair Akın İpek said no trustee had the right to disrupt the media group’s broadcast.

Kanaltürk displayed the headline “our broadcast has been shut down” throughout the commotion.
Koza İpek Group of Companies Chair Akın İpek said no trustee had the right to disrupt the media group’s broadcast.

Speaking over a phone call to the Kanaltürk’s main broadcasting room, İpek said it was unlawful to seize the company.

Cihan News Agency reported that İpek was ordered to pay the salaries of employees of the media group earlier than the usual payment day in order to not cause any financial inconvenience after the police raid.

The police raid drew stern criticism from lawmakers, academics, and supporters from different political backgrounds, with senior figures from opposition parties paying visits to express support to the media group.

Politicians from the three opposition parties visited on Oct. 28 the media organs of the Koza İpek Company after an Ankara court appointed a trustee panel to the company on accusations that it was “involved in the activities of the Fethullahist Terror Organization.”

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said the police raid of the media group building of the Koza-İpek was “unacceptable,” saying there was not only pressure on media but on the whole of society.

“It’s not a good start to the day. This is the ‘AKP Turkey.’ It is not an acceptable practice. At first it seems like oppression of a media outlet, but it in fact it targets the entire society,” Doğan News Agency quoted Demirtaş as saying during his meeting with representatives of Turkey’s Jewish, Armenian and Syriac communities.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies Şafak Pavey, Sezgin Tanrıkulu, Mahmut Tanal and Barış Yarkadaş also visited the Koza-İpek office in support.

Tanrıkulu said the seizure of the business of a media group amounted to a manipulation of the right to vote freely.

“Four days are left until the election. A government critic media platform being seized by excessive police force and its broadcast shut down is a true intervention into the right to vote freely,” Tanrıkulu said on his visit.

“Today is a shameful day. Everyone who made this decision and those who implemented it will have to answer for their crimes,” said CHP deputy Yarkadaş.

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Istanbul Provincial Head Mehmet Bülent Karataş and several other party officials visited the office building in solidarity.

The police did not let Karataş or others with him enter the building, sparking a brief scuffle, Doğan News Agency reported.

Parliamentary Deputy Spokesperson Şafak Pavey also condemned the raid live on Kanaltürk inside the building before the channel’s broadcast went black later in the day.