March 4, 2016

Jurists blast seizure of Zaman Media Group

Threats of seizure against Zaman Media Group, which includes Today's Zaman, have been blasted by jurists who have warned that a seizure would be a blatant violation of the rule of law and press freedom.

“Closing down or silencing a media organization is never a democratic method,” Celal Ülgen, a seasoned lawyer in penal law, has told Today's Zaman.

Noting the seizure of a media organization by the government would be against the Constitution, Ülgen said, adding that a media organization can only be punished if it commits a crime.

“It is a violation of the rule of law to close it [media organization] down, to change its management by appointing trustees, to turn it into a pro-government outlet following seizure, and then dismiss the journalists shortly after,” Ülgen added.

Ülgen added that those who supported the seizure may one day find themselves faced with the same situation as the rule of law will have been eliminated.

“There is no limit to cracking down on critical media,” he said.

Günal Kurşun, a professor of criminal law and the president of the Association for Human Rights Agenda, has blasted the potential seizure of Zaman Media Group saying: “This is the end of the rule of law; democracy is in ruins… My poor Turkey..”

Drawing attention to the Constitution, which says a media outlet cannot be seized even if it is claimed to be a crime tool, he told Today's Zaman that those who illegally seize a media outlet by violating the Constitution could face a life sentence.

Article 30 of the Constitution says: “A printing house and its annexes, duly established as a press enterprise under law, and press equipment shall not be seized, confiscated, or barred from operation on the grounds of having been used in a crime.”

Published on Today's Zaman, 4 March 2016, Friday