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Prime Minister issues ultimatum against media group for covering corruption scandal

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is a 12 September 2008 IPI press release:

IPI Calls on Turkish Prime Minister to Retract Ultimatum Against Dogan Media Group

The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in over 120 countries, condemns the threats made against the Dogan Media Group by the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in reponse to coverage of the Deniz Feneri e.V. corruption scandal in the Turkish media.

According to information before IPI, German authorities have alleged that a Turkish charity named Deniz Feneri e.V., founded in Germany and established to provide humanitarian aid, has illegally transferred charity funds to certain individuals and certain companies. The case is currently being heard in the German courts.

Following coverage of the trial in the Turkish press, the Turkish media have been "harassed and blackmailed" by Erdogan, according to the IPI Turkish national committee in a press statement issued on 10 September 2008. Among the comments made by Erdogan regarding the coverage was an ultimatum delivered to the Dogan Media Group on 7 September 2008, demanding that they disclose the reason why they have been reporting on the events surrounding the Deniz Feneri e.V. scandal, or else he will "reveal the real reason himself" on Saturday 13 September.

"There is no place for Erdogan to question or criticise the media's right to report on an issue of public importance, such as the Deniz Feneri e.V. corruption scandal, and the media are under no obligation to justify their reasons for doing so," said IPI Director David Dadge. "Such pressure from the head of the Turkish government raises serious doubts about his commitment to an independent media, free to report on matters of public interest. IPI calls on Erdogan to publicly retract his ultimatum to the Dogan Media Group immediately, and to cease all attempts to pressure the Turkish media."

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