Turkey coup attempt: More than 130 media outlets shut

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Chained gates in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo: 27 July 2016Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The closure of several media outlets was ordered soon after the abortive coup on 15 July

The Turkish authorities have announced the closure of 131 media organisations, as a crackdown continues following the failed coup on 15 July.

Three news agencies, 16 TV channels, 23 radio stations, 45 papers, 15 magazines and 29 publishers will be shut.

One of them, Zaman, once one of Turkey's biggest newspapers, was put under state control in March. Arrest warrants have been issued for 47 staff.

Many of the media outlets are linked to the US-based cleric Fetullah Gulen

The government says Mr Gulen was behind the army-led attempted coup, a claim he denies.

Separately, the government announced on Wednesday that nearly 1,700 members of the armed forces, including 149 generals and admirals had been discharged.

At least 246 people died during the coup, and more than 2,000 people were injured.

Both the closure of the media outlets and the soldiers' dismissal were announced in Turkey's official Resmi Gazete.

While most are relatively small provincial outlets, several with a national audience have also been targeted.

Media caption,

Zafer Aknar: We get threats saying "didn't you learn your lesson from Charlie Hebdo"

Zaman's readers were mostly Gulen supporters, who stopped reading it after the state takeover in March, rendering it unprofitable.

In addition to the warrants issued for the 47 Zaman staff, authorities had sought the arrest of 42 other journalists earlier in the week.

Some of the media outlets closed

  • Cihan, which used to be one of Turkey's largest news agencies
  • National papers: Zaman and its English language publication Today's Zaman, opposition daily Taraf, Bugun, Meydan - most linked to Gulen movement
  • TV stations: Kanalturk, Samanyolu, Samanyolu News, Bugun TV, Yumurcak (children's channel)
  • Radios: Aktuel, Burc, Dunya
  • Periodicals: Aksiyon, Sizinti, Nokta

A purge too far? Analysis from Mark Lowen, BBC News, Istanbul

The numbers are staggering: 131 media outlets - newspapers, TV channels, radio stations, magazines, news agencies and publishing houses - will be closed, accused of spreading the ideology of Fethullah Gulen or backing the failed coup.

A legitimate clampdown - or a purge too far? The debate rages.

It has long been known that the exiled cleric has controlled or been close to a wide array of media organisations.

Months ago, the main Gulenist press organs - Zaman and Cihan news agency - were taken over, amidst a chorus of dissent.

Turkey's ranking in the press-freedom index of Reporters without Borders, a media watchdog, was relegated to 151st.

After the attempted coup, the government feels vindicated in its suspicions - and the state of emergency has given it the power to act.

But the accusations are growing that it is not just Gulenists but also critical journalists with no proven links to the movement who are being targeted.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Dozens of soldiers who took part in the attempted coup surrendered on Istanbul's Bosphorus Bridge

Among those discharged from the armed forces are 87 army generals, 30 air force generals and 32 admirals.

The Turkish army also revealed that 8,651 members, or 1.5%, of the nation's armed forces had taken part in the failed coup.

President Erdogan has vowed to purge state bodies of the "virus" he says caused the revolt.

Last week, Turkey declared a three-month state of emergency, allowing the president and the government to bypass parliament when drafting new laws and to restrict or suspend rights and freedoms.

Media caption,

The Turkish ambassador to the EU says the media organisations were abusing their freedom