Council of Europe Urges Turkey to Protect Press Freedom

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe (CoE) Thorbjorn Jagland on Saturday called on Turkey to respect media freedom in the light of government seizure of the Feza Media Group.

On Friday, a Turkish court ordered the Feza Media Group, which includes opposition newspaper Zaman, Today’s Zaman daily and the Cihan news agency, to be placed under the management of government trustees. The move resulted in mass protest in the largest Turkey’s city of Istanbul. On Saturday, Turkish police used tear gas, water cannons and plastic bullets to disperse the protests.

“Yesterday’s court decision to appoint trustees to Zaman media group is yet another worrying development with regard to media freedom in Turkey. The violent events in front of Zaman’s headquarters in Istanbul are also challenging…I call on Turkish authorities to respect their legal obligation to protect media freedom,” Jagland said in a statement published on the CoE website.

Jagland said that Turkey was a founding member of the CoE and party to the European Convention on Human Rights to which it must abide.

Ankara’s move has been widely criticized by a number of states, including the United States and Russia, as well as by the international organizations, such as the European Union and the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) organization.

Turkey ranks 149th out of 180 in the RSF 2015 press freedom index.