Baykal criticizes fine on Dogan Group

In an interview with news channel NTV yesterday, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal responded to allegations of corruption regarding CHP official Mehmet Sevigen, saying that no action will be taken until and unless the allegations are proved.

Baykal also criticized a tax evasion fine imposed on the Dogan Group this week, saying it was meant to muzzle the opposition. In related news, opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli yesterday criticized the campaign rhetoric of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of elections late next month.

Source: Milliyet-Hurriyet (Turkey), February 20, 2009


Op-Ed - Hurriyet: "An assault on journalists everywhere"

"Now in Turkey, the government led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pioneering a new technique to silence this newspaper and others within the Doðan Media Group. The tool is manufactured charges of tax evasion and these charge are obscene.[...]

"The circumstances, time frames and all documents relating to the tax matter in question are all public information, as required by regulators of a publicly traded corporation. Among the many ironies is that the charge is changing the dates of a contract execution to evade taxes. But had the transaction being scrutinized occured in the prior tax year as wrongly alleged, the tax implications would have been identical.

"What we are witness to has nothing to do with taxes. It has everything to do with an effort to monopolize power and turn yet another Turkish media organization into a lapdog of the ruling party. This action by the government is a stain on Turkish democracy. But it will not stand.

"We will defend our rights and honor and fight this charge with all the resolve we can summon. We will do so in the Turkish justice system. If need be will exercise resort to international and European law to which Turkey is obligated. We will challenge this injustice in the court of public opinion both here and abroad.

"The action taken against Doðan Media Group is illegal, immoral and an assault on all of us here at the Daily News as it is an assault on all journalists everywhere. This is not a fight we sought or started. It is a fight we will finish."

Source: Hurriyet (Turkey), February 20, 2009

Turkish Government and Independent Press

The government's pressure campaign on Dogan Group --housing Turkey's biggest media institutions-- carried out by Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan in person, entered a new phase with the record fine. The Ministry of Finance fined Dogan Group 826 million TL.

The 772 million TL of the fine is related with the sale of 25 percent shares of Dogan TV to German media giant, Axel Springer Group. Though the sale was finalised on January 2, 2007 and the taxes were paid within the same year, the Ministry of Finance fathomlessly judged that the sales took place in 2006 and gave a fine.

"According to Turkish Commercial Code, the sales of shares are completed when the shares are endorsed and handed over. This fine was given regardless of the laws. Besides even if the sale was completed in 2006, the same amount of tax would be paid. We are going to use our legal rights," said Dogan Press Group.

Source: Radikal (Turkey), February 19, 2009


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