The European Union has said that the raid on the offices of Turkish daily ‘Zaman’ and other media outlets is an “unacceptable attack” on media freedom and urged Turkish authorities to respect the rights of the accused, ‘Zaman’ reports.
Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign affairs and Security Policy and Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, issued a joint statement on Sunday saying that the police raids and arrests of a number of journalists and media representatives in Turkey are an unacceptable attack on the freedom of the media, which is a core principle in any true democracy.
“We expect that the principle of presumption of innocence will prevail and recall the inalienable right for an independent and transparent investigation in case of any alleged wrongdoing, with full respect of the rights of the defendants,” the statement said.
“Coming only a few days after our visit to Turkey,” the commissioners said, “which has underlined the importance of EU-Turkey relations, this operation denies the European values and standards Turkey aspires to be part of and which are the core of reinforced relations.”
They recalled that progress in the EU membership negotiations with any candidate country depends on the full respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights.
“We will convey our concerns to the [European] Council, which will on Tuesday discuss enlargement policy, including Turkey. We expect that the strong EU commitment given by our Turkish counterparts during our visit to be translated into deeds,” the commissioners said.
In an ongoing attack on independent critical media outlets in Turkey dawn raids took place early on Sunday on Turkey’s largest newspaper ‘Zaman’ and popular national TV network Samanyolu TV that led to the detention of top managers at the media outlets.
A total of 31 people — mostly high ranked media personnel, directors and producers of popular television serials and police officers — were taken into custody by the police.
Hadi Salihoğlu, the prosecutor in charge of the investigation, said in a statement that the suspects were detained on charges of establishing, heading or being a member of a terrorist organization. Fraud and slander are also what some of the suspects are accused of, the prosecutor said.
Ekrem Dumanlı, editor-in-chief of Turkey’s best-selling daily ‘Zaman’, and Samanyolu Broadcasting Group General Manager Hidayet Karaca are among those detained.
‘Zaman’ and the Samanyolu television station are among the media outlets which have been critical of the government for alleged corruption since two major investigation into corruption at the highest level, went public in December 2013.