U.S. Members of Congress and Media Condemn Takeover of Zaman Newspaper

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On the March 4, 2016 Turkish government seized control of Zaman, the largest circulated newspaper in Turkey. New management, including a three member board was appointed by the court.  The takeover, which is a violation of the freedom of press, has led to reactions from U.S. Members of Congress and the international community. In addition, the New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, CNN and other news outlets reported on this issue.

Press releases from Members of Congress are below:

Rohrabacher Condemns Newspaper Seizure in Turkey

WASHINGTON – Concerning the seizure by Turkey’s government of a major newspaper, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats, issued the following statement:

President Racep Tayyip Erdogan has for years been moving in the wrong direction. The armed seizure over the weekend of Zaman, Turkey’s largest newspaper, along with the politically motivated sacking of its top journalists, was a giant step backwards.

It was a clear signal to the world and an intimidating message to the Turkish people that his objective is nothing less than a strict authoritarian regime with him at the top. This is acutely significant given Erdogan’s known ties to the radical Muslim Brotherhood, which has been spreading murder and mayhem throughout the Middle East.

For years our NATO ally Turkey has been looked to as an example of how democracy can be compatible with Islam. That must remain our hope. But Erdogan’s latest,  power-hungry outrage singlehandedly casts doubt on that promise. The United States as well as our European and Muslim allies – indeed all believers in democracy — must in the strongest possible terms condemn Erdogan’s violent efforts to stifle dissent.

Rep. Pascrell Condemns Turkish Government Takeover of Opposition Newspaper

PATERSON, NJ – U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) released the following statement:

Following a Turkish court decision last week allowing state takeover of media outlets, and police raids of the Istanbul offices of Zaman, a major, high-circulation daily newspaper in Turkey, late on Friday. State-appointed trustee have replaced operational and editorial personnel, while some of the paper’s journalists are being charged with crimes against the state.

“The United States must take the actions of Turkey – our friend and NATO ally – very seriously,” said Rep. Pascrell. “Freedom of speech and of the press are not ideals, but practical rights that cannot and should not be distorted. I want to express my support for a clear and direct message to our ally: limiting journalistic independence, restricting freedom of speech, and eroding basic human rights is unacceptable.”Last April, Rep. Pascrell sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry in opposition to Turkey’s human rights violations, including press censorship and detainment of members of the media. In the letter, Rep. Pascrell asked Secretary Kerry to engage Turkish leaders and encourage adherence to human rights guidelines and the ideals of free democracies. Letter available in PDF here: 1.usa.gov/1YorOLv.

Links below to original releases:

Rep. Bill Pascrell – Link

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher – Link

Links to their twitter responses:

Rep Henry Cuellar – Link

Rep Randy Weber – Link

Rep David Schweikert – Link

Rep. Todd Rokita – Link

Rep. Paul Gosar – Link

Rep. Tammy Duckworth – Link

Spokesperson John Kirby – Link

Luke Messer – Link

Links to articles

The Guardian – Press freedom in Turkey is ‘under siege’, says CPJ

The NY Times – Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Despotic Zeal

Washington Post – Depotism Deepens in Turkey

CNN – Turkish court orders takeover of media group critical of government

The NY Times – Turkish Police Raids Opposition Paper Hours After Take Over

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