Istanbul, Sep 17 () - Daily Hürriyet cannot be silenced with politically motivated probes and attacks, Republican People’s Party (CHP) chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said.
“If the right to be informed is restricted in a country, then we can’t talk about democracy in that country. Hürriyet is the most important newspaper in the world of the press. If the aim of this investigation is to silence Hürriyet and its writers, they should know that they are not powerful enough to accomplish it,” Kılıçdaroğlu said during a live interview on private broadcaster CNNTürk late Sept. 16.
On Sept. 15, Turkish prosecutors launched an investigation into the Doğan Media Group, which owns daily Hürriyet, the Hürriyet Daily News, CNNTürk and a number of other media outlets, for “terrorist propaganda,” after accepting a widely derided front-page story in pro-government tabloid Güneş published five days earlier as a criminal denunciation.
Kılıçdaroğlu slammed the Justice and Development Party (AKP) over what he described as a three-pronged strategy to intimidate independent media. This strategy, Kılıçdaroğlu said, involves financial instruments, direct calls to put pressure on journalists and, finally, criminal investigations.
“When they want to silence a newspaper, they instruct the pro-government media to declare that newspaper and its owner a terrorist. ... They think everyone will believe in it,” Kılıçdaroğlu added.
According to Kılıçdaroğlu, if the AKP cannot succeed in the first two tactics, it moves to the “third method,” which is criminal investigations.
“If a prosecutor launches a probe over a story published by their tabloids, that investigation is not even legal. It is only a shame for democracy,” he said, while stressing Hürriyet was a newspaper “various people with all kinds of political views read.”
“You can have an idea about a person’s political views by looking at which newspaper he or she reads. However, you can’t do it for a Hürriyet reader, because everyone reads that newspaper. This is the reason for the pressure put on Hürriyet because their own voters read Hürriyet, too,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Hürriyet’s headquarters in Istanbul was attacked by pro-AKP protesters on Sept. 6.
AKP MP Abrurrahim Boynukalın, who was filmed while giving a fiery speech in front of Hürriyet and threatening journalists, was elected to the AKP’s steering committee at the party’s congress on Sept. 12, four days after a similar attack targeted Hürriyet a second time.
All suspects who were detained after the attacks targeting the newspaper were released, while a terror probe was launched into Hürriyet.
“They are attacking newspapers, accompanied by MPs,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, “The government should ensure an environment in which journalists can work freely.”