A Turkish court has ordered the closure of Özgür Gündem (loosely translated, Free Agenda) on grounds of “producing terror propaganda” for the PKK separatist group.
The court order describes the closure as “temporary” although no duration appears to be specified in the text of the decision.
Özgür Gündem gazetesinin 8. Sulh Ceza hakimliği kararı ile geçici olarak kapatılması sansürdür, kabul edilemez pic.twitter.com/ECV8DvGmGX
— DİSK Basın-İş (@Disk_Basin_is) August 16, 2016
The decision, made by the eighth magistrates court of Istanbul, has sent shockwaves through the paper’s readership and civil society groups in Turkey, although Turkish nationalists are celebrating the closure of a publication which has frequently been singled out for its close ties to the PKK.
Twitter accounts restricted, websites blocked
Access to the Twitter feed and posts by Özgür Gündem have already been restricted in Turkey for some time, and multiple pre-existing “protection” orders preventing access to the paper’s websites as administered by the recently-closed TIB communication bureau were already in effect.
The many faces of Ozgur Gundem
Faced with censorship and political pressure, the paper has gone through several iterations…
|Name (tr)||Name (en)||begin||end|
|Özgür Ülke||Free Land||28 April 1994||2 February 1995|
|Yeni Politika||New Politics||13 April 1995||16 August 1995|
|Demokrasi||Democracy||12 December 1996||3 May 1997|
|Ülkede Gündem||Agenda in the Country||7 July 1997||23 October 1998|
|Özgür Bakış||Free View||18 April 1999||24 April 2000|
|2000’de Yeni Gündem||New Agenda in 2000||27 April 2000||31 May 2001|
|Yedinci Gündem||Seventh Agenda||23 June 2001||30 August 2002|
|Yeniden Özgür Gündem||New Free Agendy||2 September 2003||28 February 2004|
|Ülkede Özgür Gündem||Free Agenda in the Country||1 March 2004||16 November 2006|
|Toplumsal Demokrasi||Social Democracy||16 November 2006||5 January 2007|
The closure comes amidst a wider crackdown of media groups, journalists and academics in Turkey as a reaction to the 15 July coup attempt:
New figures show the extent of Turkey's shutdown of opposition media outlets – one of history's largest #TurkeyPurge pic.twitter.com/67ZJz0XdgS
— D8 News (@D8News) July 27, 2016
Members of the Ozgur Gundem editorial team were not available for comment.