A journalist, who has been accused of refraining from criticizing Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), had been appointed the chief editor of the Hurriyet newspaper.
Ahmet Hakan Coskun has been appointed as the new editor-in-chief of Hurriyet, the daily reported on Wednesday.
“A new era at Hurriyet,” one of Turkey’s highest-circulating newspapers on Wednesday said on its front page, announcing that Coskun, a popular columnist at the daily and TV host for the CNN Turk channel since 2005, took over as the new editor-in-chief.
“Our aim will be to take the powerful brand of Hurriyet to a higher point,” the journalist on Wednesday said regarding his new position at the daily.
Coskun’s appointment came after dozens of the daily’s employees were dismissed last week, an incident that was reportedly unbeknown to Hurriyet’s former editor-in-chief Vahap Munyar until he received a call from a fired staff member.
Munyar resigned from the daily following the dismissals of nearly 50 correspondents, editors, and writers, which occurred as a result of a decision made by Hurriyet’s owners instead of its management.
The Demiroren Group, known for its close ties to governing AKP, had purchased Hurriyet daily and some other media assets belonging to Dogan Media Group’s Aydin Dogan in 2017.
Dissidents and critics in Turkey described the move as the final nail in the coffin of free media in the country.
Following an attack outside his house in 2015 that left him with a broken nose and broken ribs, critics have panned Coskun for attempting to avoid any direct criticism of the AKP government.
It subsequently emerged that two of Coskun’s attackers were members of the AKP’s Fatih district branch in Istanbul.
Coskun’s appointment as the editor-in-chief of Hurriyet took place three years after a leaked e-mail uncovered a conversation discussing the possibility.
The issue is discussed in an e-mail, published in May 2016 by WikiLeaks, to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak, who was Turkey’s Minister of Energy at the time, from his brother Serhat Albayrak.
The e-mail of Berat Albayrak, the country’s current Minister of Treasury and Finance, includes a suggestion by Turkish businessman Mehmet Ali Yalcindag, son-in-law of Turkish billionaire and media tycoon Dogan, that Coskun should head the paper.
After describing his efforts to find a person he could personally vouch for, due to the editorial change necessitated by “wrongdoings in the newspaper,” Yalcindag ends the mail by saying Coskun would be suitable for the editor-in-chief position.