Censorship creeps in: Turkish state body asks online news portal T24 to remove news on Erdoğan’s family

The Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) has ordered an independent online news portal, T24, to remove a news article from its website about a parliamentary inquiry submitted by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Umut Oran on Friday into claims of alleged bribery and fraud involving the family of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, reports daily Today’s Zaman.
Voice recordings circulating on social media — allegedly of conversations between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his son Bilal, certain ministers and businessmen discussing bribery in the sale of the Turkuvaz Media Group — were brought to the agenda of the Turkish Parliament on Friday.

CHP Deputy Chairman Umut Oran submitted a parliamentary question about the claims in the recordings.

The media is prohibited from running stories on allegations in a second corruption probe that has been stalled since Dec. 25, 2013, when the İstanbul Police Department refused to carry out a prosecutor’s order to detain a new group of suspects. After the government’s reshuffled the first chamber of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), the HSYK removed all of the prosecutors that launched the investigation.

“Is your coordinator in the Sabah-ATV sale Binali Yıldırım? Did you assign Bilal Erdoğan to the process?” Oran asked Erdoğan. Binali Yıldırım is the former minister of transportation, maritime affairs and communications and is now running for İzmir mayor for the Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

The TİB, which previously blocked well-known journalist Mehmet Baransu’s website for publishing photos and tapes about a major investigation into alleged bribery linked to public tenders and money laundering, asked the T24 to remove the story it published on its website.

The news portal has yet to comply with the call.

The irony is the parliamentary motion by MEP Oran remains posted in Turkish Parliament’s website.

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About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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