Paris, 24 February 2009
For immediate release
World Press Organisations Protest Against Turkish Fine
The World Association of Newspapers and World Editors Forum today condemned an 826 million pound (381 million Euro, $490 million dollar) fine imposed on the Dogan Media Group in Turkey, calling it a "politically motivated" response to critical reporting.
In a statement, the Paris-based associations, the global organisations of the world's press, called on Turkey to apply its tax laws fairly and transparently, to not use them as a tool to intimidate the press, and to respect international standards of freedom of expression.
"We are seriously concerned that the fine may be politically motivated," the statement said. "It follows the publication of stories by Dogan newspapers in September 2008 alleging that millions of euros unlawfully siphoned off a German charity may have gone to Turkey's ruling party."
On 16 February, the country's tax authorities handed down the fine for alleged tax fraud, claiming the Dogan Media Group had delayed payment of tax on a sale of shares to German publishers Axel Springer. The Dogan group denies the charges and says that it paid its taxes on time.
The fine follows two other incidents suggesting political motivation: the cancellation, in November 2008, of the accreditation of seven Dogan Group reporters covering prime ministerial affairs; and the recent call by Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the public not to buy Dogan Media Group newspapers.
Dogan, the nation's largest media group, publishes Hürriyet and Milliyet and owns CNN-Turk.
More WAN/WEF press freedom protests can be found at