"Democracy Ends In Turkey": Prominent Anti-Erdogan Newspaper Seized In Midnight Raid

Tyler Durden's picture

Overnight both freedom of press and democracy officially died in Turkey, with time of death just before midnight, when Turkish authorities stormed the Zaman daily, a newspaper staunchly opposed to president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and after using tear gas and water cannon they seized its headquarters in a dramatic raid that raised fresh alarm over declining media freedoms.

The police used water cannon late on Friday at a hundreds-strong crowd that had formed outside the headquarters of the Zaman daily in Istanbul following a court order issued earlier in the day.


The details: shortly before midnight, a team of police arrived with two Turkish-made TOMA water cannon trucks. They advanced military style towards the waiting supporters, firing the freezing water directly at them. Using bolt-cutters to unlock the iron gate in front of the building, dozens of police then marched into the premises to seize the headquarters and formally place it under administration, pushing aside anyone who stood in their way, Cihan images showed.

Once the building was cleared, the court-appointed administrators - lawyers Tahsin Kaplan and Metin Ilhan and writer Sezai Sengonul - were bussed inside the complex to begin their work, Anatolia said.

The clash in front of the Zaman headquarters is captured in the clip below:


The swoop caused immediate concern in Washington and Brussels amid the intensifying worries over the climate for freedom of expression in Turkey. EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn said he was "extremely worried". However, the concern is clearly not big enough to threaten Turkey with expulsion from NATO and certainly not big enough to demand those $3 billion back which was given to Turkey to "fight" the refugee crisis and instead was promptly embezzled by the ruling regime.

As AFP adds, Zaman, closely linked to Erdogan's arch-foe, the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, was ordered into administration by the court on the request of Istanbul prosecutors, the state-run Anatolia news agency said. Hundreds of supporters then gathered outside its headquarters awaiting the arrival of bailiffs and security forces after the court order.

"Democracy will continue and free media will not be silent," Zaman's editor-in-chief Abdulhamit Bilici was quoted as saying by the Cihan news agency just before the police raid.

"I believe that free media will continue even if we have to write on the walls. I don't think it is possible to silence media in the digital age," he told Cihan, part of the Zaman media group.

Don't be so sure: the Cihan news agency and the Today's Zaman English language daily - which are also part of the Feza Publications group that owns Zaman - and are also affected by the court order.

Ironically, the raid on Zaman comes as Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu heads to Brussels Monday for a crucial summit meeting with EU leaders. The news of the court decision broke as Erdogan was holding talks in Istanbul with EU President Donald Tusk. We doubt that any of Europe's "leaders" will fail to appear at the summit despite the presence of the now official Turkish despot: after all Turkey is instrumental to stemming the tsunami of refugees, something Erdogan knows very well and is milking for billions of dollars in bribers, pardon, "state aid."

Erdogan's crackdown against the Zaman is merely the latest act in his ongoing crusade against his nemesis who lives in the US, preacher Fethullah Gulen, and whom Erdogan has accused ot essentially creating a parallel republic. There is, of course, no such thing but Erdogan gladly uses the strawman to blame anything that goes wrong in Turkey on Gulen's "parallel state."

Ankara now accuses Gulen of running what it calls the Fethullahaci Terror Organisation/Parallel State Structure (FeTO/PDY) and seeking to overthrow the legitimate Turkish authorities. Anatolia said the court order was issued on the grounds that Zaman supported the activities of this "terror organisation".

There have been numerous legal crackdowns on structures linked to the group and on Friday Turkish police arrested four executives of one of the country's largest conglomerates, accusing them of financing Gulen. Gulen supporters decry the accusations as ridiculous, saying all he leads is a more informal group known as Hizmet (Service).

* * *

The effective seizure of the newspaper by the state added to concerns over freedom of expression in Turkey under Erdogan's rule. The daily Cumhuriyet newspaper's editor-in-chief Can Dundar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul were released on an order from Turkey's top court last week after three months in jail on charges of publishing state secrets. But they still face trial on March 25.

Erdogan's crackdown on the freedom of speech is so vast, that as of this moment almost 2,000 journalists, bloggers and ordinary citizens, including high school students, have found themselves prosecuted on accusations of insulting Erdogan.

This latest overnight raid on free spech was so brazen, even the U.S. felt compelled to say something about its erstwile mid-east ally and the country which funds and supports ISIS.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby said the court order was "the latest in a series of troubling judicial and law enforcement actions taken by the Turkish government targeting media outlets and others critical of it." He added that "we urge Turkish authorities to ensure their actions uphold the universal democratic values enshrined in their own constitution, including freedom of speech and especially freedom of the press."

Europe also chimed in when EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn said he was "extremely worried" about the move "which jeopardises progress" made by Turkey in other areas. He warned on Twitter that Turkey, which is a long-standing candidate to join the European Union, needs to "respect the freedom of the media" and rights were "not negotiable".

Well it appears they are, especially if Turkey has the most important bargaining chip of all: the future of the European Union, because should the US or the EU antagonize Erdogan too much, he will merely unleash the spigot of Muslim refugees entering Europe leading to the inevitable implosion of the European "Union" just a few months later.

* * *

Finally, here are some additional thoughts from investigative historian Eric Zuesse who writes that...

Democracy Ends in Turkey

On Saturday March 5th, Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (German Economic News) headlined “Turkish Police Storm Newspaper Office Zaman” and reported that, “Turkish police entered the editorial offices of critical newspaper Zaman on Friday night.” Accompanying videos there showed a police-state in which ‘security’ forces stormed through a crowd of protesters (readers of the newspaper) outside, into Turkey’s leading opposition newspaper, which is also Turkey’s leading English-language newspaper, Zaman, and arrested staffers there, taking them away, to who-knows-what fates.

There’s nothing like Zaman  in just about any country: for examples, the New York Times, Washington Post, London Times, and Guardian, aren’t “opposition newspapers,” though they used to cover the opposition in a moderately fair way, prior to the George W.  Bush Administration, 9/11, and “regime change in Iraq.” By contrast, Zaman  has constantly been very bold in exposing truths that the regime doesn’t want the public to know. But that’s all past history now — it’s at least as radical a change for Turkey as occurred in America with the Bush regime, which controlled the media as effectively as its successor-regime, Obama’s, has done, and which never needed to employ such blatantly police-state methods as Turkey now is clearly doing.

On Thursday March 4th, Tayyip Erdo?an, the Islamist President of U.S. ally and NATO member-nation Turkey, took over Zaman  or Today’s Zaman, where the headline on Friday was: "Court appoints trustees to take over management of Zaman, Today’s Zaman.” Until after that report was filed, this was only a court matter, not a blatantly police-state one — using physical forms of force, including armed ‘security’ forces inside, and water-cannons against demonstrators outside.

Here was that Zaman  news-report’s opening:

An ?stanbul court has appointed trustees to take over the management of the Feza Media Group, which includes Turkey’s biggest-selling newspaper, the Zaman daily, as well as the Today’s Zaman daily and the Cihan news agency, dealing a fresh blow to the already battered media freedom in Turkey.


The decision was issued by the ?stanbul 6th Criminal Court of Peace at the request of the ?stanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, which claimed that the media group acted upon orders from what it called the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETÖ/PDY),” praising the group and helping it achieve its goals in its publications.


The prosecutor also claimed that the alleged terrorist group is cooperating with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist organization to topple the Turkish government and that high-level officials of the two groups have had meetings abroad.


The court decision means that the entire management and the editorial board of Feza Media Group companies will be replaced by the three-member board named by the court.

Turkey’s existing conservative regime is typical of conservative governments in using ‘national security’ rationalizations as excuses for clamping down against the public, supposedly in order to ‘protect’ the public. However, the ‘democratic’ gloss over the transition of a democratic government into a dictatorial one can do nothing to maintain as being true the supposition that the nation is a democracy instead of (now) a dictatorship.

The specific ‘national security’ context behind today’s clamp-down and end of democracy in Turkey, is that the Zaman operations were owned by Erdo?an's enemy, Fethullah Gülen, who had self-exiled to an estate in Pennsylvania after objecting to the Islamicization of Turkey’s government under Erdo?an. Gülen is no ‘secularist,’ but he came to insist upon a separation between church-and-state, so that there will be no favoritism by the government toward any clergy, and thus no favoritism by the clergy toward any government or political party. In other words: Gülen preaches a relatively progressive version of Islam.

By contrast: Erdo?an has, consistently since he first entered politics, moved Turkey more and more toward a standard Sunni dictatorship, aligned with the Saud family, who own Saudi Arabia, and who hold authority over Islam’s two holiest sites: Mecca and Medina. Their Islamic sect is called Wahhabism inside Saudi Arabia, and Salafism outside Saudi Arabia. The founder was Mohammed Ibn Wahhab in 1744, when he swore a mutual oath with the gang-lord Muhammad Ibn Saud, for Saud’s descendants to control the government, and for Wahhab’s preachers to instruct the faithful that the Sauds have God’s blessing to rule. Under this agreement, Wahhab’s preachers determine the laws, based upon the strictest-possible interpretation of the Quran, which therefore functions as Saudi Arabia’s Constitution, while the Wahhabist preachers constitute the legislative and judicial branches of the Saud-led government, who are the executive branch — the Saud-clan’s leaders.

Outside Saudi Arabia, the sect is called “Salafist,” meaning that they derive their authority from their ancestors. This feature authorizes royal rule, because royal dictators achieve their ‘right’ to rule on the basis of whom their ancestors were (i.e., their parents, going ultimately back to some founder who was a conquerer). For this reason, all of the Arabic royal families are Salafists. Inside Saudi Arabia, the Saud family are Wahhabists (the Saudi version of the Salafist sect).

The continued membership by Turkey in NATO would mean that there is a NATO that no longer has any vestige of justification for continued existence after the end, in 1991, of communism, of the USSR, and of the Warsaw Pact. Democracy no longer survives as even a vestigial excuse for its continuation.

NATO, from now on, is just a gang of nations whose aristocracies crave to conquer the world’s most resource-rich nation: Russia. (It’s done by picking off, one-by-one, Russia’s former allied nations and bringing them into the NATO gang.) The U.S. and Saud family, and Erdo?an family, as well as the other Arabic royal families, and the controlling investors in U.S. and allied weapons-manufacturers, etc., constitute the chief beneficiaries of continuing NATO, but the conquest of Russia is not at all the primary goal of the residents  in NATO-member nations. In fact, it’s not a goal that’s even talked about in their ‘elections.’ If those nations were democracies, they’d abandon NATO, as being representative of dictatorship over them all, not of democracy, in any nation.

But we’re all dictatorships now.

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cossack55's picture

NATO's true colors

froze25's picture

But Assad is the bad guy right?

DaddyO's picture

All these authoritarian actions around the globe.

But this is America, we have nothing to fear but fear itself, right?

Are these news stories a harbinger of things to come?

We report, you decide, eh?


MalteseFalcon's picture

Did democracy ever start in Turkey?

Would American democracy be seriously impaired if the NYT, WSJ and the WP were padlocked?

Clearly these papers are antagonistic to the vast majority of Americans.

Father Thyme's picture

Joey, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?

NoDecaf's picture

Tayyip is no fool, he learned from the best...no color revolutions in Turkey.

jm's picture

Putin has done exactly the same thing years ago in Russia.  then he invaded a sovereign country and annexed a piece of it.

Sheep don't mind double standards.


NoDecaf's picture

The Republic of Crimea voted to join Russia. Russia accepted....Crimea had it's own constitution prior to the western backed coup. Nice try.


fuck off with your propaganda cunt.

jm's picture

Putin did exactly the same thing as what is documented in this post. Years ago.


Volkodav's picture

exactly?  where is your proofs?

show us the water cannons for a start...beat downs of citizens... lock away no rights

you are backwards full of crap liar either/and most profound stupid


Crimea is still celebrating...

jm's picture

regarding Putin's shut down of opposition media, links are below.  Keep scrolling.

Funny how the biggest useful idiot for Putin on this site is free to say anything in this corner of the internet. Don't try this walking on a bridge near the Kremlin with the name Nemtsov.

Manthong's picture

“he invaded a sovereign country and annexed a piece of it.

Sheep don't mind double standards.”


JFC.. you are either a troll or just a fool without a clue but with a keyboard.

Look up Catherine the Great in the late 1700’s and Khrushchev the Ukrainian in 1956.

Go ying your yang.

.. and you probably think that the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in North, not just the South.



jm's picture

Putin hagiography doesn't change the fact that he did the exact same thing that Erdoyan is doing now.  ZH gives erdoyan the mark of the beast, and Putin a halo.

When the pitchforks finally come out, it will be in Russia, not the US.  Putin and his mafia are billionaires through corruption and now the country is falling apart.

TheReplacement's picture

Crimea voted for annexation.  You lie. 

Manthong's picture

Have you listened to Putin's last address to the Federation or his last sit-down presser at Sochi?

Likely, a former KGB guy is not as pure as the wind driven snow, but he sure can beat F out of Hussein.

Erdogan is evil.

jm's picture

By their actions, Erdogan is no more or less evil than Putin.  They both kill civilians, invade countries, back insurgents--pursue their personal aims using state power.



Manthong's picture

“Putin and his mafia are billionaires through corruption and now the country is falling apart.”

Review the above statement in a couple of years…

..they are doing some good things focusing inwards..

The stupid US and EU “sanctions” made it necessary   .. ask Jim Rogers


And.. are their oligarchs and mafia any worse than ours???   Go do a secret tour of Monsanto in Missouri.

.. as the US has unrelentingly excoriated Russia.. they have been amazingly polite and diplomatic in absolutely everything I have listened to.

And BTW, they have gotten the job done where the US has horridly failed in the ME

.. and stand by to see just how brown the next crop of EU kids are.


jm's picture

Jim Rogers is a retired dude that strokes his ego by making an appearance on CNBC Asia when they need comic relief.  

Putin and his mafia are in it to get rich.  Fair enough, so is everybody to some extent. The problem is that there are no way to check unlawful means in doing this is Russia.  There is no independent media, there is no institutional restraint on his means of action. This is not a few exceptional cases--corruption, bribery, and paying for zealotry pervades the country. In a couple of years, Russia will be the same oriental despotism it has always been, wholly dependent on the price of oil and nat gas to meet operating budget expenses.

What Russia needs is protection of innovation and innovators.  The country is full of smart, even brillant people.  But they all get the hell out of there as quick as they can so they can get rich on their efforts, skills, and ideas. the facts show no one can do it there without being a part of the thug crew.

The US has Obama at the helm.  He couldn't find his way out of a paper bag, much less manage the situation in the Middle East. What surely must be scaring Putin and his kind is the the United States didn't run aground-- it has even grown where few other places have--in spite of Obama's ineptness.   


Manthong's picture

Maybe I could posit that Mr. Rogers has more millions invested in Russian internal resources than the combined net worth of next few dozen folks likely to read these posts.

Look, I really don’t a dog in the Russian hunt, but I am not seeing much bad stuff over there

..and the Nemtsov guy.. he might been mixed with some less than savory dudes.

jm's picture

Facts not feelings.

Max Steel's picture

What a thickskull you are.

Max Steel's picture

What a thickskull you are.

Max Steel's picture

What a thickskull you are.

Max Steel's picture

What a thickskull you are.

shovelhead's picture

I guess it bears repeating.

Silent Running's picture


You are talking about Obama?

Theosebes Goodfellow's picture

It is important to note that Turkey first allowed the abandonment of the Ataturk policies of secularism in favor of a creeping sharia. This allowed for Erdogan's rise. If this isn't the final nail in the coffin of NATO, I do not know what is.

silverer's picture

Amazing guy, that Putin. He even invaded the Ukraine using photographs of the invasion of Georgia. Clever guy, that Putin. Yep. That what US leadership posted as proof, and somebody spotted it. There's your chicken shit documentation on that one.

Manthong's picture

But, hey… the really good news is that we used all of our intelligence resources.. you know.. monitoring all communications,  low earth orbit super high resolution satellite images, close communications with Noodlemans new puppets, etc ..  yada yada   




But the best news is that the Dutch got all their gold back from NY.

..like the Germans did, too... Right?


peddling-fiction's picture

Looks like Erdogan is getting ready for war by cleaning up shop at home and tightening the screws.

COSMOS's picture

Lets not forget out major newspapers and media outlets were 'stormed' a while back by the Zionists, except they were a lot more subtle about it than Erdogan. I guess he didnt want to buy the paper.

peddling-fiction's picture


True. MSM´s soul was sold long time ago.

general ambivalent's picture

Putin turned your iPhone into an EMP, and now you're posting out of your ass.

shovelhead's picture

I tried that but I got a shitty connection.

Get it?


I make joke like Ukrainian.

Dutti's picture

"Putin has done exactly the same thing years ago in Russia"

You win the prize for one of the most stupid comparisons on ZH.

jm's picture

Two despots establishing authoritarian control to stop any dissent with no regard to freedom of speech.

You on your knees, a sheep to be fleeced.

highly debtful's picture

Lack of nuanced thinking is one of the few, albeit fatal flaws on this blog and it is one of the reasons I hardly ever post any comment anymore. Other than that, Zerohedge still beats the MSM every single day, IMO.

I take it you have guessed by now the green arrow is mine? 

Manthong's picture

“Lack of nuanced thinking”

Well, yeah, that happens but it seems to me that fight club ends up producing some pretty good stuff.

And it ain’t fatal…

..  until some exogenous event kills it





Like in Turkey....



monk27's picture

Oh dear, the potato troll morphed into the beets troll. He's still trying to make a living pitching the same crap though. How lame...

Bill of Rights's picture

Were waiting for said proof... Don't leave us hanging .

scatterbrains's picture

They should all try to be more subtle and just use the gentle power of central banking to create the fiat to consulate all the print/radio/broadcast media like our controllers did here... not a single canister of tear gas spent.. in fact each lurch forward of control was praised by Wall St. along the way.


Sandmann's picture

The US invades sovereign countries with gay abandon and violates their national identities. The UN Charter is irrelevant to War Criminals in Washington, but ultimately Americans INSIDE the USA will die as the world turns and decides to resolve the rogue state. There are Chinese, Indian, Korean and other nuclear submarines sailing the wold's oceans not to mention Russian boats. There is simply no way the US wil escape losing major cities in any future conflict - 9/11 was trivial compared to what will come

shovelhead's picture

Gay abandon?

Not all those boots on the ground are red pumps.

But I think the Pentagon is still working on that.

Kayman's picture


If you had any knowledge of the history of Russian, the Ukraine, and Crimea, your statements might have some meaning. The Ukraine, at one time, was part of Poland.

Much of southern Russia was settled by Germans who were squeezed out more than 100 years ago.

No one country has a better "claim" than any other. Peaceful co-existence is the only, but fleeting, solution. 


jm's picture

The issue is that Putin did exactly the same thing a couple of years ago that Erdoyan now did. This coverage is as shocking as the flock of sheep happy to just follow the prescribed storyline and ignore they are being played.

nmewn's picture

See, if they had a Trust & Safety Council like Twitter they wouldn't have to rely on all these strong arm authoritarian tactics!

Oh, wait ;-)

Father Thyme's picture

Anita Sarkeesian is here to help you maintain Equalibrium.

Did Twitter's Orwellian 'Trust and Safety' Council Get Robert Stacy McCain Banned?
Prominent GamerGate figure clashed with council member Anita Sarkeesian. Now he's gone.