Turkish journalist quits pro-govt Hürriyet newspaper after falling victim to censorship

A Turkish journalist has quit the high circulation Hürriyet newspaper complaining her work was being censored, joining a growing list of names to have quit the paper since its takeover by a business with close connections to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government earlier this year.

Hürriyet newspaper’s internet writer Ayşe Baykal announced her departure after more than four years with the newspaper via a Twitter post on Monday.

“I have recently come up against censorship that I can’t make sense of. I want to apologise to (my readers) that I can’t resist it,” Baykal said in her post.



Baykal’s recent articles have covered Hatice Cengiz, the fiancé of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi; Turkish current affairs; and issues related to women’s rights and justice. Baykal said she would continue writing and sharing her articles on social media.

Hürriyet newspaper was one of the prominent news outlets owned by Doğan Media Group, the last major Turkish media group to maintain a quasi-independent editorial line. The group was bought in March this year by Demirören Holding, a business with close links to the AKP and a track record of buying newspapers and making them toe the government line.

Since the sale a steady stream of journalists has left the newspaper, including the former editor-in-chief Fibret Bila, award-winning economy writer Uğur Gürses, and veteran columnists Taha Akyol and Mehmet Yılmaz.

Murat Yetkin, the editor-in-chief of Hürriyet’s English-language edition Hürriyet Daily News resigned in September, denying that the sale to Demirören had been “at the core” of his decision but saying he did not want “to take part in the final stage of the transformation of Turkish media as we know it.”

With Doğan Media Group’s sale, approximately 90 percent of Turkish newspaper circulation is estimated to be in the hands of outlets whose owners are close to the AKP government.

Turkey was downgraded in this year’s Freedom in the World index by Freedom House to a status of “not free,” reflecting in part the country’s position as the largest jailer of journalist in the world with a restrictive media environment.