World Association of News Publishers

Protest Campaign - Turkey, 2 October 2015

Protest Campaign - Turkey, 2 October 2015

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

FAX: +9 312 525 5831

2 October 2015


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 grave concern at the violent assault on journalist Ahmet Hakan Coşkun as well as a series of attacks against Daily Hürriyet, the latest in a string of recent assaults on press freedom in Turkey.

On 1 October, Hürriyet columnist and TV commentator Ahmet Hakan Coşkun was severely beaten by four people in front of his house in Istanbul. At least two of the attackers, who have been detained, were confirmed as Justice and Development Party (AKP) members, and one is a Twitter personality known for trolling users who are critical of the government. Seventeen days before the attack, Mr Coşkun had applied to the Istanbul Governor’s Office for police protection due to the serious threats he had been receiving. At the time of the attack, he was still waiting for a response from the Governor’s Office.

The attack on Mr Coşkun came a day after you made a speech that was highly critical of Aydın Doğan, the founder of the Doğan Media Group, which owns Hürriyet. According to reports, over the past month Hürriyet has been subjected to a series of violent attacks and intimidation. On 6 September the newspaper’s headquarters in Istanbul were attacked by pro-AKP protesters, during which a senior AKP MP was filmed delivering a provocative speech. Two days later, there was a second violent attack on Hürriyet’s offices.

On 11 September, a newspaper spokesperson said that journalists and members of the Doğan family had received violent threats and asked the government and legal authorities to take precautions.

On 15 September, prosecutors launched an investigation into the Doğan Media Group for “terrorist propaganda”, based on a totally unsubstantiated story in the government-aligned tabloid Güneş.

These attacks contribute to a growing climate of intimidation of the press. On 27 August, two British journalists and their interpreter working for VICE News were arrested on charges of working for a terrorist organisation and assisting Islamic State. On 23 September, an Istanbul court ordered the detention of Gültekin Avcı, a columnist for the daily Bugün, who is accused of "attempting to overthrow the government" and being a member of a terrorist organisation. Other recent incidents include the decision by online TV streaming service Tivibu to stop carrying TV channels Bugün TV, Samanyolu Haber and Mehtap TV, which are known for their critical stance towards the government.

We are seriously concerned that these incidents, ahead of elections in November, form part of a systematic campaign by your government and its supporters to intimidate independent media. Such a campaign would constitute a 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 guarantee that those responsible for the attack on Mr Coşkun are brought swiftly to justice. Equally, we urge you to ensure the intimidation of Hürriyet and other media is halted, and that all journalists detained for their reporting activities are immediately released. As elections approach, there is an even greater need for free and independent media and we ask that your Party and its supporters fully respect freedom of expression and that you take all possible measures to ensure the safety of journalists.

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


Yours sincerely,


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


2015-10-02 15:52

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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 ...