February 4, 2015

Police prevent certain media outlets from entering Bank Asya

After the Savings Deposits Insurance Fund (TMSF) took over 63 percent of Bank Asya's privileged shares late on Tuesday, police officers prevented certain media outlets that arrived at the scene to cover the story from entering the Bank Asya building, while others were allowed to enter.

The state-run Anadolu news agency, Doğan media group representatives and the NTV news channel were able to enter the bank building, while the Zaman daily, the Cihan news agency and the STV news channel were forced by police to remain outside. Journalists from the media outlets that were banned from entering verbally protested the police's actions.

Speaking with Today's Zaman, Turkish Journalists Union (TGS) President Uğur Güç said that it is quite clear where the order to prevent certain media outlets affiliated with the Hizmet movement, inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, from covering the raid came from.

"The police department has turned into a security tool of the AKP [Justice and Development Party] instead of being a protector of public security. The AKP already embarked on a plan to impose an accreditation ban on the same media outlets when they try to cover events organized by the government. Yesterday's police crackdown on media outlets might be considered the continuation of previous pressure on the press,” Güç commented.

The intervention on the faith-based Hizmet movement-affiliated Bank Asya comes on the heels of an earlier effort to allegedly scuttle the bank by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, along with attacks from pro-government media as well as regulatory restrictions. Erdoğan has on several occasions made defamatory remarks about the bank, accusing it of failing to manage its funds and even once claiming that the bank had already sunk.

However many consider the real motivation behind targeting the bank to be the government's and Erdoğan's personal effort to evade the consequences of a graft scandal that went in public on Dec. 2013, implicating dozens within the government and close to Erdoğan, in an effort to seek a scapegoat and portray the AK Party government as the target of a plot by the Hizmet movement.

Published on Today's Zaman, 04 February 2015, Wednesday