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Turkish Journalists Report Police Raid on Their Own Offices

Open Source

By ROBERT MACKEY OCT. 28, 2015

OCT. 28, 2015

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    Open Source

    By ROBERT MACKEY

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    Reporters in Istanbul covered a police raid on their own offices on Wednesday, as the Turkish government seized control of two television stations and a newspaper group critical of the governing party just four days before national elections.

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    Turkish police officers stormed a media group’s headquarters on Wednesday in Istanbul. Cihan News Agency, via YouTube

    Scuffles between officers and reporters unfolded on live television as the police broke into the shared headquarters of the two channels, KanalTurk and Bugun TV, and ushered in court-appointed trustees who were placed in charge of the company that owns the media group, Koza Ipek Holding.

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    KAPKARA BİR GÜN #SUSMAYACAĞIZ https://t.co/oZ0qhEA0A9

    — BUGÜN Gazetesi (@bugun) Oct. 28, 2015

    The conglomerate, which owns 22 companies, including two daily newspapers, Bugun and Millet, stands accused of ties to Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric who lives in exile in Pennsylvania. Mr. Gulen’s followers were once allies of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s moderate Islamist party, but the government now considers them a shadowy underground network to be rooted out through purges of the police, the judiciary and the media.

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    Police officers were caught on camera blocking cameramen for Bugun TV and KanalTurk during the raid. Cihan News Agency, via YouTube

    As the police forced camera crews outside the building to stop taking video, journalists retreated to the Bugun control room where Tarik Toros, the broadcaster’s editor in chief, fought the new trustees to keep the channel on the air as long as possible.

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    We are stuck in Bugun TV control room. The police have entered the building. Chief Editor Tarik Toros trying to continue the broadcast

    — Suna Vidinli® (@SunaVidinli) Oct. 28, 2015
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    BUGÜN TV ve KANALTÜRK karartıldı İŞTE SANİYE SANİYE O GÖRÜNTÜLER #SUSMAYIZ https://t.co/H3gnmg4yrJ

    — BUGÜN Gazetesi (@bugun) Oct. 28, 2015

    That struggle was captured by Bugun reporters in dramatic footage that was later posted online with subtitles by Turkey’s Cihan News Agency.

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    The Turkish police and court-appointed trustees confronted Bugan TV’s editor in the control room of his studio. Cihan News Agency, via YouTube

    In the end, both channels disappeared from the airwaves during a shared live broadcast on Wednesday afternoon, which Bugun’s Suna Vidinli reported on Twitter.

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    We were live until the police stormed the control room of Bugun TV today. Chief editor @TarikToros was heroic today! pic.twitter.com/tUsgFlF0CD

    — Suna Vidinli® (@SunaVidinli) Oct. 28, 2015

    By Wednesday night, reports from both Bugun and KanalTurk were blocked from viewers in the United States on YouTube.

    Mustafa Kilic, a journalist for one of the group’s newspapers, Millet, shared an image of blood on his press card, an apparent result of resisting the police during the raid.

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    #SUSMAYACAĞIZ pic.twitter.com/oARor7Ayb0

    — Mustafa Kılıç (@mustafakilicmk) Oct. 28, 2015

    As Cihan reported, Bugun TV had “emerged as a main platform for opposition politicians over recent months.”

    One of the final guests interviewed in the Bugun TV studio during the raid was Selahattin Demirtas, the co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, or H.D.P.

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    Pro-Kurdish HDP head S.Demirtas now @BugunTV studio #live speaks against seizing Akin media gr:“mafia-like actions" pic.twitter.com/9pAJoVfHQn

    — ilhan tanir (@WashingtonPoint) Oct. 28, 2015

    Mr. Demirtas called the move to seize the media group “mafia-like” behavior by Mr. Erdogan’s party, which is known by its Turkish initials, A.K.P.

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    #Demirtaş: Are we surprised? No. Such oppressive measures are common practice in #AKP’s #Turkey pic.twitter.com/gFdf1c7s9u

    — BGN News (@bgnnewsturkey) Oct. 28, 2015

    On Wednesday night, Mr. Erdogan suddenly claimed on live television that the opposition H.D.P. campaign was secretly being run by President Obama’s election team. Although the accusation was widely mocked on social networks, it reached many Turkish ears unchallenged.

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    Erdogan: "Obama's campaign staff is behind HDP's campaign. They've been conducting meetings" https://t.co/iLWM9J1oD3

    — Pola Rojan (@PolaRojan) Oct. 28, 2015
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    3 days to elex, Erdogan wants to pick a fight w Obama -last resort to gain votes. Nothing else to exploit. Desperate https://t.co/Wkwt95LiKe

    — ilhan tanir (@WashingtonPoint) Oct. 28, 2015

    The raid was condemned as an attack on press freedom by opposition politicians, rights groups and European diplomats.

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