tv Listening Post Al Jazeera March 13, 2016 7:30am-8:01am EDT
capitol of cool. but it helped to displace the very people whose god-given talents made it possible to begin with. rob reynoln reynolds, al jazeer. we are waiting for the press conference, in the meantime here is our website. ♪ hello. i'm richard gizbert and this is "the listening post." the media war in turkey, the
biggest newspaper taken over bit the government and a tv channel taken off air. we talk to a news editor who is just out of jail saying things will get worse. the washington post is not out to get bernie sanders. critics would disagree. a recipe idea for film makers who want to get their idea on the front burner. this week turkish authorities seize the biggest newspapers, three blows to the fourth estate. journalists thrown out of their jobs said that over night it was turned into a government mouthpiece. the paper is allied with the turkish religious leader living in the u.s. who is a former ally of the president erdogan. other mediation organizations with links to the moeft has been taken over-- movement has been
taken over as well. last year the government accused twoed tors from the newspaper of treason for publishing information about weapons transfers by the turkish secret service to renl fighters in syria. then when-- rebel fighters in syria. then when ordered the release from prison, president erdogan said he would not honor the ruling. as for outside pressure on the president erdogan, his critics say there's search not enough of it. they blame that on the wider refugee story. the e.u. needs turkey these days to help limit the flow of the refugees into e.u. so they're going easy on the president. later a feature interview with the editor whose fate, depending on who you believe, rests either with the courts or the president. but first the wider media story in turkey. including some of the voices the government has just silenced.
our starting point this week is istanbul. the front page of the biggest selling paper on saturday march 5 was dressed in black. the headline says the constitution is suspended. the next day's paper had a much prettier outlook featuring a smiling president talking about the historical excitement around a new bridge project. what happened? this. >> the government has seized control of the biggest newspaper. police pushed through the crowd with war cannon and tear gas the paper is understand new management. >> the brutal crackdown was almost expected. it was a matter of time-- under new management. >> it was a matter of time because the government has been targeting the group by means of smear campaign.
pro-government columnists has been encouraging them to target the group. >> this is the final stage to change the ownership structure of media in turkey. this is sad and tragic, it is a step to change the editorial line altogether, which it did, actually, because if you see two coverages of these paper, one day before the take over and the next day, of course, there is a huge difference. >> i mean, i can't even find the right word. it is somehow funny. how would the readers react to the drastic change of the political line of the newspaper? nobody takes it serious, not even people who are supporting erdogan would take it serious. you change the management of the newspaper and you change p the newspaper's policy and oops, everything will be changed. no, you cannot stop opposition.
no way. >> reporter: the take overs today and the news agency represent one front in the media war being waged in turkey between the government and goulan, the cleric living in the u.s. who was a supporter of erdogan until they fell out three years ago. the news outlet associated with him and the movement supported erdogan too and the government left them alone. the fallout happened and the coverage changed, particularly in 2013 when the media broke stories alleging corruption in erdogan's family. then the group of outlets suddenly found themselves accused of financial irregularities. jane candour is a columnist and a member of the ruling party. >> i don't think that it was one of the darkest days in turkish press history. the group, which owns the paper, was taken under trusteeship because there were questions
about its financial dealings. it has not been taken over. it is the court's ruled that there is no financial misdoings, it will be given back to the owners, but we have to remember that this is a movement that has been investigated for misdoings in america and other countries as well. it's not actually surprising that it has happened in turkey >> everything going on in turkey, all lawlessness, violation of human rights and media freedoms, they all boil down to the corruption investigation of 2013 because the investigation implicated allegedly erdogan's family in order to detract investigation he needed a scapegoat and that turned out to be the movement and unfortunately a significant portion of the turkish people support this argument. >> reporter: according to the new york based ecommittee to prejt journalists, china, egypt
and iran has more journalists in prison than turkey does. 33 are behind bars the majority are kurds reporting in the south-east. censorship and blocking of platforms have become routine. since the fighting spurred up last year, the largest fighting news agency had its site blocked 29 times. another new is agency and the biggest selling kurdish paper also had their websites closed when the fighting began. they can be seen from outside turkey but not from within the country. then there's the case of i mctv a channel that focuses on kurdish issues. the state owned satellite company dropped i mc relegating it to terrestrial access and online access only. an interview was pulled with two
journalists who are clearly unpopular with erdogan. she was conducting the channel just before it went to black >> it was 3 prime minister where i had them on air and probably someone called and asked them why our channel was still on air. it may have taken maybe 15 minutes or 20 minutes until they dropped us from the satellite. i strongly believe that the timing was in relation with this live interview i was conducting with the two men when that interview took place, the editor and the
paper's bureau chief were fresh out of jail. the charges with espionage and came after erdogan promised to make them pay. when the constitutional court freed the two men last month, the president said he would not abide by the court's decision. the matter is now in the hands of a lower court and who knows what happens next. >> he spoke as an individual. as far as i know, i'm not a lawyer, but the objection that was made by some people is that the lower courts should have a right of a decision first and then an appeal would have been made to the konty substitutional court-- constitutional court. >> so let's focus on erdogan statement because he is openly leading the courts which is
unconstitutional because according to the turkish constitution nobody, let alone a president, could give court instructions. in this case, clearly erdogan has been inter feeing with the court's decision and has been-- interfering with the court's decision and saying he doesn't recognise the court's decision. this is another alarming signal that the constitution has been violated in turkey one final note, brussels hosted a news event this past week involving european heads of government. the e.u. has been among president erdogan's toughest critics on freedom of the press, but that's not what the meeting was about. it was on how to limit the flow of syrian refugees coming through turkey into europe. turkey represented by prime minister held most of the cards and everyone knew it. it ended with a turkey for 3
with al-shabab in masterminding and executing the murder of several journalists. he was sentenced to death. he started off working at a radio and then for a militant group. he fled to kenya but was found there and arrested in 2014 and extradited back to somalia. he monitored media coverage. he was convicted of killing one reporter personally and of involvement in another five cases. 46 journalists have been killed in somalia over the past 10 years. the thai government has dropped a legal case against a photo journalists who was arrested last year for carrying a flabbing jacket and-- flack jacket through an airport. he was working for a media group who had been in thailand last august covering the aftermath of a bombing there. he brought the safety gear in because of the nature of the
story. he was then arrested on his way out of the country. under the law they're classified as weapons and violations of the law restricting them are punishable by up to five years in jail. he was in a night in prison before being bailed and then six months for trial before the government dumped the case. thailand has been under military rule for two years now. there are a litany of complaint by journalists there. over the past near turn journalists have had visa requests denied. the washington post found itself answering some questions about the coverage of democratic bernie sanders after a flurry of stories not many of which could be described as positive. 16 stories in 16 hours, the deluge of the stories was spotted by the media watch group fair, fairness and accuracy in
reporting. it pointed out that most pieces had a negative slant or questioned the stance or viability of his campaign. the washington post was bought in 2013 by amazon.com founder who is reportedly an libertarian who may not be a big fan of the thoughts espoused by bernie sanders. this was published six weeks ago: bernie sanders replied checkout where all the genius eswere with regard to the invasion of iraq. we're going to delve deeper into the media story in turkey now, the editor in chief which after the take over of the newspaperer
is now the biggest newspaper paper in the country. in is as story of alleged trucks carrying weapons to syria. president erdogan promise that the person who wrote this story will pay a heavy price for it, i won't let him go unpunished, sent chills across the media landscape. the charges that followed against him and his bureau chief included espionage and membership in a terrorist organization. they spent 92 days behind bars before the constitutional court ruling that set them free. another lower court will decide on march 25 if their freedom is to last. the president has made it clear that this case is not closed. i spoke to him from his home in istanbul. he spoke in turkish. he told us that he didn't want to miss out on any details while
speaking in english. i asked him about his time in prison. irngs firstly, my family were there as were my colleagues and lawyers. then there were those who fight for freedom in turkey on a daily basis. the people who have been waiting near to the prison gates supporting us throughout this period. the joy we shared in that moment was not only about our release but the feeling something good was happening. after being held in solitary for three months this was exciting for us that story that you published in the paper back in may last year when you alleged that turkish intelligence trucks were smuggling arms to rebels in syria, do you stand by that story and is there anything that you could add to it now that you didn't first publish?
>> translation: of course i'm still defending my story. i wish it had never been sensored and then the public would have seen how this country has been dragged through the mud. the government sensored the story and arrested us. this is a big cover up and i don't regret exposing it at all. i would like to know where those weapon $were delivered and how they were used in the coming days it will be our duty to investigate these further president erdogan took that story personally and he made it personal in return. he vowed that you would pay a heavy price. how much of what has followed, the charges, your imprisonment has been a result of how the turkish state sees the media and how much of this do you think comes down to the president himself? >> translation: erdogan treated this as though it was his
personal secret we had revealed. we had exposed the moment in the syrian war and he was so furious. he is still working to put us back in jail. this sends a chill to the whole journalistic community you were released after a ruling by the constitutional court that said that your freedom of speech was taken away. is there a link between the government and the courts? >> translation: this is the first time in turkish history, maybe world history, that a president has not obeyed the constitutional court. everyone must follow the laws.
in turkey today it is we the public that say erdogan must follow these rules. the regime has been turned upside down and we are now struggling for our democratic rights under the leader there's the closing of the news, and the channel taken off the air. the question is why now? >> translation: the raid on the newspaper coincides with the migration crisis that is not paying attention to the big stick that erdogan is holding in his hand. he has leverage right now. he can threatened to open the borders if the government is criticized and then the e.u. will have to deal with more refugees on european society.
that is why he has these attacks. it will only accelerate. that's my expectation your story has received international attentions. the story is on the pages of the new york times. many of the journalists in turkey imprisoned are reporting on the south-east. their cases have received very little, if any, konch. what are journalists like you doing to report that story. do you feel solidarity with them? >> translation: certainly. we have become symbolic for all journalists imprisoned. we need to tell the world that turkey is an open prison. we will show our solidarity.
this is not just freedom of journalists. it has consequences for everyone in the country. if we win efb will be freed, not just-- everybody will be freed, not just journalists how much support have you received from the rest of the turkish media or have they been scared silent on this story? >> translation: unfortunately, i have received much more support from european media than turkish. need there is immense pressure. some of the journalists who would normally criticise this case are already behind bars while others are unemployed. in the last two to three years the pressure has become unbearable. in spite of this, my colleagues have supported us as much as they can. but i must reiterate one point. this is a struggle for democracy and as soon as we break through this barrier of fear, people will learn to write freely once
again given all that is happening and with your criminal court hearing coming up on march 25, has anyone advised you to despite the travel ban get out of turkey while you still can? >> translation: ofk. so many people have said this to me. the common belief here in turkey is that if the president files a case against you, there is no way you can escape a prison term. i reject these beliefs. we are not criminals. they want us to leave the country, but i would prefer to be in prison showing bravery standing tall against these precious which creates more troubles for erdogan. this is something i realized after my repeat arrest. i will go to jail before leaving this country thank you very much for speaking to us at the listening post today. we hope to do this again some time soon.
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