Gov’t press ad agency punishes Cumhuriyet for reporting on Altun’s illegal construction

Duvar English 

The government-run Press Advertisment Agency (BİK) has imposed a 35-day ban on sending ads to the daily Cumhuriyet for reporting on an illegal construction facilitated by Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun on a patch of land that he rented in the Kuzguncuk neighborhood on Istanbul’s Anatolian side.

The BİK, which pays newspapers to run official ads and announcements, is an important source of revenue for Turkish newspapers, particularly opposition papers that have been targeted by the government and struggle to survive financially. 

In recent years, the institution has been instrumentalized against a number of opposition dailies to exert pressure on their critical coverage. 

Following Cumhuriyet‘s report, which was published in April with the title “There is illegal activity on the Bosphorus,” a crew from the Istanbul Greater City Municipality (İBB) came and demolished the gazebo, pathways and fireplace built on the land, which was reportedly rented by Altun for the very a paltry 258 TL a month. 

A court subsequently blocked Cumhuriyet‘s online access to the report on the grounds that it was attempting to “undermine Turkey’s success in its struggle against the coronavirus while European countries remain unsuccessful in their struggle.” Within Turkey, the article is currently inaccessible without using a VPN. 

Meanwhile, the BİK determined that Cumhuriyet had “exceeded the boundaries of press freedom and freedom of speech” in their decision to punish the paper and exempt it from paid ads for the next 35 days. 
State prosecutors have opened investigations in April against Cumhuriyet journalists Hazal Ocak, Vedat Arık, Olcay Büyüktaş Akça, and İpek Özbey for their role in the paper’s report.

from Duvar English

About CHP EU Representation

The CHP was founded on 9 September 1923, about one and half month before the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey. The first President of modern Turkey’s oldest party was M. Kemal Atatürk. Today CHP is a social-democratic party, member of the Socialist International and associate member of the Socialist Group at the European Parliament. The scope of the CHP bureau in Brussels is not limited to the bilateral framework of Turkey's EU accession process. Issues such as the information society, energy policies, social development, climate change, international trade and security are among the different focus areas. The EU-Turkey relations are about integration and need multiple, plural and horizontal channels of communication. The CHP supports and promotes Turkey's EU membership process also by being more present and active in Brussels The CHP's Representative to the EU is Ms Kader Sevinç who previously worked as an MEP advisor at the European Parliament and in the private sector.
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