November 17, 2015

EU expresses concern over removal of Samanyolu channels from Türksat

European Commission Spokesperson Maja Kocijancic expressed concern over the removal of the TV and radio stations within the Samanyolu Broadcasting Group from the state-owned Turkish Satellite Communications Company (Türksat) on Nov. 14.

A total of 13 TV and radio stations, including Samanyolu TV, Mehtap TV, S Haber and Radio Cihan, that are critical of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) were removed from Türksat upon an order from Ankara public prosecutor Serdar Coşkun in April.

Answering a question from Today's Zaman, the European spokesperson said they are following the developments closely and also reiterated the importance of respect for the rule of law and media freedom.

The commission's progress report on Turkey was also mentioned by Kocijancic, as it had said, “The commission expressed concerns about a serious deterioration as regards the respect for freedom of expression.”

Urging the new Turkish government to re-launch the legal reform agenda, Kocijancic said, “The commission is ready to work with the new government on all reforms in the area of rule of law and fundamental rights.”

Commenting on the issue on Twitter, Emma Sinclair-Webb, Turkey researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said the Turkish government's “shocking” move against Samanyolu will leave almost no critical TV station which might offer an anti-government or anti-AK Party view.

The Samanyolu Group became a target of the government's crackdown because it was seen as being affiliated with the Gülen movement, a grassroots social initiative inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accuses the movement of instigating the massive corruption probes of Dec. 17 and 25, 2013, which involved ministers in his government and even some of his family members. The movement denies the allegations.

Published on Today's Zaman, 17 November 2015, Tuesday