Government Seizure of Koza Ipek

On Wednesday, police raided the offices of the critical İpek Media Group, cutting Kanaltürk's broadcast and attempting to silence news channel Bugün TV. Legal experts note that the right to information is protected by the Constitution, and that violating it can carry a five years prison.
On Wednesday, police raided the offices of the critical İpek Media Group, cutting Kanaltürk's broadcast and attempting to silence news channel Bugün TV. Legal experts note that the right to information is protected by the Constitution, and that violating it can carry a five years prison.


Date posted: October 29, 2015

Summary of Events

On Monday October 26, 2015, upon a request by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Ankara 5th Criminal Peace Magistrate ordered that Koza Ipek Holding (with 22 companies) be put under receivership. Trustees from the pro-government Sabah-ATV media group were appointed to replace the current board of directors. After CNN Turk announced the receivership, the shares of Turkish mining firm Koza Altin slid more than 5 percent.

On Tuesday, the officials who arrived to enforce the order did not have a legal authorization to present and implement the decision. With armed police, the officials took a hold of the 22 companies of the Koza Ipek Holding, including two daily newspapers (Millet and Bugun) and two TV stations (Kanaltürk and Bugün TV). Protestors outside the facilities were tear-gassed, harassed (and arrested?) by the police.

On Wednesday morning, 40 civilian police stormed the offices of Ipek Media Group. The new trustees from ATV, along with police escorts, forcibly entered the building housing Bugün TV and Kanaltürk. The police and trustees, immediately upon entering the Kanaltürk broadcast room, cut the station’s live broadcast and aired a public service announcement. Despite efforts by the police to cut it, Kanaltürk and Bugün TV then launched a joint broadcast lasting more than 10 hours. The police then evacuated the floor of the building from where Kanaltürk broadcasts and the cables that transmit the live broadcast were unplugged. Bugün TV Editor-in-Chief Tarık Toros was escorted by police officers out of the broadcasting room. A hand-written notice from the new executive board of Bugün TV declared that Toros had been sacked. The broadcast was cut around 4:40 pm.

There was undue harassment of civilians, journalists, and politicians displaying support for the Koza-Ipek media group at its Istanbul headquarters. The Turkish Rapid Response Force fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters outside the offices. Journalists were arrested and handcuffed from the back, with several of them being punched and kicked. Two reporters were hospitalized by the police, one with severe injuries to his internal organs and the other with a broken leg. According to footage broadcast live on TV, officers used chainsaws to smash through the gates of the media compound.

These media stations that have been a prominent platform for opposition politicians were forcefully taken off the air. Critics say this move aims to silence opposition ahead of polls and is a move to manipulate the elections. The forceful seizure of the Koza-Altin business group and its media branches hinders the dissemination of information and presents serious economic repercussions.

The publicly listed companies owned by Turkey’s Koza-Ipek Holding plunged on the Istanbul stock market. Gold miner Koza Altin Isletmeleri, energy explorer Ipek Dogal Enerji and miner Koza Anadolu Metal diminished 500 million liras ($170 million) in market value. An expert added, “Foreign ownership is above 85 percent in Koza Altin and this kind of news is probably among the worst for foreign investors as it hurts the visibility and predictability of investment cases.” Koza Altin plunged 12 percent to 17.40 liras, Ipek Enerji fell 9 percent to 1.94 liras. Koza Anadolu dropped 12 percent to 1.64 liras, making the three shares the worst performers on the Borsa Istanbul 100 Index.

An expert’s report on Koza Ipek Holding wrote,

“Considering the volatile economic conditions of countries like Turkey, for there to be no single instance of impropriety in corporate entities that deal with large sums of money does not suit the financial, technical or commercial realities on the ground…There isn’t such a thing as a perfect corporation, accounting system or financial structure in the world. Yet, based on information gathered by individuals and relevant institutions, the corporation in question appears perfect in its official documentation.”

Lastly, a government official asserted that this crackdown on media will expand after the elections. AK Party deputy Aydın Ünal, a former advisor and speechwriter for President Erdoğan, said during a televised interview on pro-government news channel A Haber, “We will most certainly make them answer for their actions after Nov. 1, when the AK Party comes to power by itself.” Ünal was referring to opposition Turkish dailies Hürriyet, Cumhuriyet, Sözcü and Zaman.

Known for representing Venezuelan terrorist Ilich Ramírez “Carlos the Jackal” Sánchez and the leader of the Islamic militant terrorist group İBDA-C Salih Mirzabeyoğlu, lawyer Hasan Ölçer was assigned as trustee to three of the 22 Koza İpek Holding companies.

Source: Alliance for Shared Values , October 28, 2015


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