Police raid of Zaman daily HQ ‘totally barbaric act’ – Zaman’s ex-editor-in-chief to RT

The recent police raid and government takeover of Zaman’s headquarters in Ankara has been described as “crazy” and “barbaric” by co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Today's Zaman English-language daily (2007-2015), Bulent Kenes, in an interview with RT.

[DISCLAIMER: The following transcript of the interview is approximate due to poor phone signal]

RT: You are trying to launch a new opposition newspaper. Tell us a bit about that.

Bulent Kenes: The Turkish government is targeting not only the press, it is targeting the law and all kinds of freedom in Turkey. As journalists, we are victims of this oppression from the despotic regime. Since Friday the biggest Turkish daily, Zaman Daily, is in control of the government. Now my friends, my colleagues in Zaman Daily, in Today’s Zaman, in Aksiyon news weekly and Cihan News Agency – outlets under the roof of the Feza Publishing Corporation – are under the siege of police. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of anti-terror police officers sieging the daily.

READ MORE: 1st edition of Turkish Zaman daily after govt takeover sees smiling Erdogan on front page

RT: We saw the authorities coming with teargas. Do you think there will be trouble there today again?

BK: Today there hasn’t been that kind of intervention by police. But police are out there and there is watercannon. In the area of the office, there are anti-terror teams, also the newspaper’s building. So the journalists from Zaman Daily, Today’s Zaman or Aksiyon news weekly couldn’t do their job under the control of the so-called trustees appointed by the government.

RT: We went to the Turkish Zaman website only to find that all of the content had been removed, except for the message saying “More qualified and unbiased journalism would be on its way soon.” What do you make of that statement?

BK: They target most critical opinion pieces and closed the website. We are afraid they will delete it all. It is a highly intellectual newspaper, so this is totally a barbaric act, which is not aimed at more impartial, more objective content. What they did is turning Zaman Daily in a kind of propaganda newspaper. We know a couple of similar papers and how partial, non-objective , how political and how terrible they are. Journalists don’t think that the Zaman newspaper can survive, because it can only live with the support of the readership. And Zaman’s readership will leave subscriptions and give up reading this propaganda. I think the Zaman Group will go bankrupt soon.