November 4, 2015

Access to newly established Özgür Bugün daily website blocked

Access to the Özgür Bugün (Free Bugün) website, which was launched after trustees were appointed to the Bugün daily's administration in a controversial decision last week, was blocked early on Wednesday.

The Özgür Bugün website showed a notice on Wednesday which said access to the site had been blocked after a decision by the İstanbul 8th Penal Court of Peace.

Police raided the headquarters of a number of media outlets early on Oct. 28 after the Ankara 5th Criminal Court of Peace ruled on Oct. 26 for the takeover of the administration of Koza İpek Holding's companies, which includes critical media outlets in the İpek Media Group, in a government-backed move. The trustees then took over the management of the Bugün and Millet dailies, as well as the stations Bugün TV and Kanaltürk, following the police intervention, during which many journalists and protesters were subjected to excessive police force.

The Bugün and Millet dailies published their first editions after the trustees' takeover on Oct. 30. Both papers contained what could be interpreted as propaganda from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with almost no reports on opposition parties, despite a general election being due to take place on Nov. 1. The newspapers under the management of the new trustees have since been turned into mouthpieces of the AK Party and Erdoğan. The new management has also fired tens of journalists working at those newspapers and hired pro-government journalists instead.

In reaction to the new pro-government stance taken by their confiscated dailies, the editors of the Bugün daily who had been fired started preparing an alternative edition of the paper to provide a platform for the publication of pieces they produce independently. The new website has attracted great interest and support from readers.

Published Today's Zaman, 4 November 2015, Wednesday