World Association of News Publishers

Protest Campaign - Turkey, 8 March 2016

Protest Campaign - Turkey, 8 March 2016

Article ID:


His Excellency President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
President of the Republic of Turkey
06560  BESTEPE

Sent via Fax and Email.

8 March 2016


Your Excellency,

We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, to express our outrage at the court-ordered takeover of Zaman newspaper.

On 4 March an Istanbul court ruled that Zaman, Turkey’s biggest newspaper with a readership of 650,000, should be run by administrators. No reason was given by the court for the decision against the daily.

On 5 March the last edition of the newspaper under the previous ownership said that Turkey's press had seen one of its "darkest days". The first edition under administrators on 7 March carried a range of pro-government articles. A newspaper set up by former Zaman staff was launched on Sunday 6 March.

Police raided Zaman's Istanbul offices late on 4 March only hours after a court ruling placed it under state control, but managers were still able to get Saturday's edition to print. Water cannon and tear gas were used to disperse Zaman supporters gathered in front of its headquarters on 5 March. Journalists arriving for work on 5 March were denied access to internal servers and Editor-in-Chief Abdulhamit Bilici was fired.

We are seriously concerned that the replacement of Zaman’s ownership and its immediate switch of editorial line from one that was broadly critical of government to one of support represent a political takeover of a private newspaper. This is particularly alarming as it comes at a time of seriously deteriorating conditions for press freedom in your country, about which we have written to you on several occasions, most recently on 25 October 2015.

We respectfully remind you that the takeover of Zaman for political ends would constitute a clear breach of the right to freedom of expression, which is guaranteed by numerous international conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of the Declaration states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media, regardless of frontiers.”

We respectfully call on you to take all possible steps to ensure that Zaman is returned to private ownership and that administrators respect the freedom of the editorial staff to determine the newspaper’s editorial line. We ask that your government fully respects its international commitments to freedom of expression.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.



Tomas Brunegård
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers


Marcelo Rech
World Editors Forum



WAN-IFRA is the global organisation for the world’s newspapers and news publishers, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organisation groups 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2016-03-08 12:14

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In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...