Sunday, March 25, 2012

The daily Özgür Gündem closed for a month

The printing press where the Turkish daily Özgür Gündem (Free Agenda) is printed was raided by the police yesterday (Saturday, March 24). During the raid, the copies of the paper printed for today (Sunday, March 25) were confiscated. The newspaper is closed for a month by court order because the court decided that the news, photographs, and commentaries published on the first, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th pages of the paper published yesterday were making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization.

This gross violation of press freedom is unfortunately not the first one that the daily Özgür Gündem experienced in its history. The first issue of Özgür Gündem was published on May 30, 1992. Seventy-six of its employees, including thirty reporters, had been killed within two years as it became the target of attacks due to its reporting of murders perpetrated by the Turkish Hizbullah and the "deep state" of Turkey. The newspaper had been closed in April 1994 and re-opened under the name of Özgür Ülke [Free Country]. After eight months, in December 1994, three offices of Özgür Ülke were bombed, which resulted in the death of one of its employees in addition to 21 wounded.

Özgür Gündem was re-opened almost a year ago on April 4, 2011. You can read more about the closure of Özgür Gündem on its website. The front page of today's confiscated Özgür Gündem is reproduced on the left.