media freedom at stake as turkey fights rebels
Last Updated : GMT 03:09:26
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Media freedom at stake as Turkey fights rebels

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Media freedom at stake as Turkey fights rebels

Milliyet -- long seen as a respected and mainstream title
Ankara - AFP

When suspected Islamic State (IS) jihadists organised a deadly attack on Turkish activists in Suruc on the Syrian border in July, respected newspaper commentator Kadri Gursel responded with a tweet critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"It's embarrassing that foreign leaders call the person who is the number one cause of the IS terror in Turkey to present their condolences for Suruc," he tweeted.

Gursel was referring to allegations -- vehemently denied by Ankara  -- that Erdogan had supported jihadists in Syria in the hope they would oust the Syrian regime.

The response by his newspaper Milliyet -- long seen as a respected and mainstream title -- was swift and merciless.

Gursel, who started working for the paper in the 1990s and began his column in 2007, was fired the same day.

The paper said Gursel's comments were journalistically unethical and violated its editorial principles. It condemned what it termed his "subversive attitude."
His case highlights the problems of the Turkish opposition press as Erdogan pushes a relentless offensive against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels and prepares for snap legislative elections on November 1.

The past weeks have seen the arrest and deportation of international journalists, attacks on the Hurriyet newspaper's headquarters and a probe opened against the paper's owners for alleged "terror propaganda".

On Monday, the authorities raided the premises and detained the managing editor of the magazine Nokta for a cover satirising Erdogan.

"Erdogan wants to restore his party as the single party of government," Gursel told AFP.

"To achieve his goal, he is seeking to silence remaining critical voices in traditional media" by  forcing owners to dismiss critical journalists, "terrorising" reporters by attacking their editorial headquarters and opening legal cases on charges of insulting the president, Gursel said.

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