GeriGündem Turkey's largest media group refuses to bow to gov't pressure
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Turkey's largest media group refuses to bow to gov't pressure

The owner of Turkey's largest media group, Dogan Group, said the government is attempting to blackmail the company, adding if they want the group to submit, that is not going to happen. Erdogan's remarks brought the risks to freedom of expression to the agenda again, said the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC). (UPDATED)

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan furiously slammed the Dogan Group for publishing news stories on an ongoing fraud case in Germany, with alleged links to the government and the premier, instead of opening investigation into the claims.


Erdogan's reaction came after the group’s companies, including Hurriyet daily, reported the allegations made by the leader of main opposition party Deniz Baykal, who told Turkish broadcaster NTV, owned by another media group, the indictment in the fraud case included allegations that donated money was paid to Erdogan and his party.


Erdogan had continued his criticism on Sunday, saying the Dogan Group's publications on the case, known as Deniz Feneri, emanated from the government's rejection of Dogan's demands to issue favors in regard to the group's other business interests.


Aydin Dogan, the owner of Dogan Group, responded to Erdogan's claims in an interview with the Group’s broadcaster Kanal D, late on Sunday.


He said the group is being blackmailed by the government and rejected the recent attempts to suppress the free media in Turkey.


"We are ready to correct any mistakes, however if you do it with threats, blackmail, and pressure, then you can't call it a democracy. This can only be named as nothing other than a dictatorship regime," Dogan said.


He also extended his support to the government in its bids to carry Turkey to Europe.


"If it is democratic and democracy exists in this country, then the press should be free. And (Erdogan) should respect the free and objective press. Not only respect, but also (Erdogan) should digest this," he added.


Dogan Holding ranks among Turkey's top three conglomerates, investing in six major business areas including, energy, media, industry, trade, insurance, and tourism.


The Dogan Group also owns Dogan Yayin Holding, operating in TV and radio broadcasting, as well as print and online media. The company owns Turkey's leading newspapers Milliyet, Vatan, Radikal, and Hurriyet daily.


Turkey's Islamist-rooted ruling party had survived a closure case in July. However, the top court issued a serious warning for the party over its anti-secular activities.


The Turkish government, both internationally and domestically, is being criticized for creating its own media organs.


The assets of another media group, owned by a businessman who formed a party to oppose Erdogan, were seized.


Later Turkey's second largest media group's assets were seized by official bodies. Both were later sold to groups close to the ruling AKP.



Erdogan's remarks brought the danger of blocking the multiple opinions and freedom of expression to the agenda in the country again, TGC said Monday in a statement posted on its website.


"Freedom of expression comes first among the jus cogens of democracy. The European Human Rights Convention also gives the assurance that this freedom must be used without the interference from official institutions," the statement said.


"But we cannot mention such an assurance at the point we have reached," it added.


The prime minister's remarks not only contain an injustice against the Dogan Group and its employers, but also the media and journalists as a whole.




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