Mahir Zeynalov

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Mahir Zeynalov
MahirZeynalov.jpg
Mahir Zeynalov in 2015
Born Mahir Zeynalov
Baku, Azerbaijan
Occupation Journalist, author
Notable credit(s) Today's Zaman newspaper, correspondent (2008–2016)
Los Angeles Times, (2005) Al Arabiya, Columnist (2013–)

Mahir Zeynalov (IPA: Turkish pronunciation: [maːhir zeynalov]) is a Washington D.C.-based journalist, analyst and a press freedom champion[1]. Zeynalov is currently the CEO of The Globe Post Media[2], a columnist for Al Arabiya[3] and writing for Huffington Post.[4] He rose to international prominence for documenting the massive crackdown on journalists and he is best known for his works on authoritarian regimes. His work on Turkey is closely followed in the West.[5]

Career[edit]

Zeynalov first started his professional career with the Los Angeles Times. He later joined Today's Zaman and worked there until the Turkish government shut down the newspaper in 2016. He is writing columns for Al Arabiya since 2013 and regularly contributing to Huffington Post. He is a frequent commentator in world's major radio and TV channels, including CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, NBC and CBC. He was twice recognized among 100 people to follow on foreign policy by the Foreign Policy magazine.[6][7] Mashable also listed Zeynalov in among 14 "reliable sources" to follow regarding Syria.[8] He has an expertise on electoral systems and populist autocratic regimes.[9]

Deportation from Turkey[edit]

Zeynalov, who is Turkish by marriage, had been subject to a massive smear campaign since Gezi summer protests erupted in June 2013 for criticizing the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. When a corruption scandal broke out in December 2013, Erdoğan sued Zeynalov for posting a news report on the graft allegations, seeking up to 6 years in prison.

Zeynalov posted a Twitter message on 25 December 2013 criticizing newly appointed police chiefs for refusing to comply with orders of prosecutors. Zeynalov's tweet was about corruption charges against public employees and a Saudi businessman, Yasin al-Qadi who was listed by the U.S. as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. Zeynalov was targeted by pro-government media in a smear campaign[10] and immediately sued by Erdoğan.

In late January, Zeynalov was called in to the police to testify. [11] Prosecutors have not yet dropped charges against Zeynalov.

On February 4, 2014, the Turkish Interior Ministry decided to deport Zeynalov. On February 7, 2014, Zeynalov and his wife surrendered to the Istanbul police and were deported. Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç argued that Zeynalov was working in Turkey illegally and that he was deported because his visa was expired.

Erdoğan denied during his parliamentary speech that his government deported Zeynalov. He called Zeynalov a "liar" and argued that he has no idea about a tweet posted by the journalist, although he sued Zeynalov over those tweets.

Turkish lawmaker and opposition politician Sezgin Tanrıkulu submitted a parliamentary inquiry, demanding the government to explain on what grounds they deported Zeynalov. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Arınç acknowledged in a parliamentary response that the government deported Zeynalov, contradicting Erdoğan's previous statement, saying that his visa was expired.[12]

Reaction[edit]

A number of Turkish and international public figures, including international soccer star Hakan Şükür,[13] lawmaker İdris Bal, European Parliament’s rapporteur on Turkey Ria Oomen-Ruijten[14] slammed the government for deporting Zeynalov.

Turkey's opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu commended Zeynalov, calling him "brave" and described Erdoğan as a "coward" for the deportation decision.[15]

The New York Times included Zeynalov among outspoken journalists Nazlı Ilıcak and Mehmet Baransu, both of whom were later imprisoned, for continuing covering the corruption scandal despite pressure on the media.[16] Government's repressive treatment of Zeynalov was widely covered on the international media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Financial Times, The New Yorker, Reuters, Associated Press and BBC.

Many international press advocacy and human rights groups criticized the Turkish government for Zeynalov's deportation, including the Committee to Protect Journalists,[17] the Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, OSCE, International Press Institute, European Parliament, Reporters Without Borders, Union of German Journalists, Russian Union of Journalists,[18] Turkish Journalists Association, Media Ethics Council and Contemporary Journalists Association.[19]

While the French government criticized the Zeynalov's deportation, the US State Department described the pressure on Zeynalov as "unsettling."[20]

Documenting Turkey's press freedom violations[edit]

Two weeks after the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, Mahir Zeynalov started documenting the arrest of journalists.[21] He shared handcuffed photos of journalists as they were escorted to the prison, and added a brief message about their career. The chronicling of these journalists quickly went viral across the world. It caused such an outrage all around the world that CNN and Al Jazeera extensively covered Zeynalov's work.[22] His work about the arrest of journalists made into front pages of hundreds of international newspapers the next day.

Battle with Twitter[edit]

In September 2016, Twitter informed Zeynalov that they shut down his Turkish account within Turkey and that they received a separate Turkish court decision to block access to his another account, in which he is tweeting in English. He has a quarter million followers combined.

Zeynalov's readers in the West launched a campaign to support the journalist against Twitter, forcing the social media giant to cave in.[23] Twitter later announced that it won't block Zeynalov's English-language account. Washington Post published an editorial about this incident, urging Twitter not to bow to pressure by "a tyrant" -- Erdogan.[24]

Launching The Globe Post[edit]

In 2016, Zeynalov launched The Globe Post Media, a digital U.S. media organization that serves as an umbrella group for niche-centric news outlets. In 2018, the media group was acquired by Chicago-based MAESTRO Media Group.[25] Its flagship news publication is The Globe Post[26] that prioritizes reporting about rights violations, civil liberties, press freedom and minority rights. As of 2018, The Globe Post had over 50 reporters, full-time and part-time, all around the world.[27] One of the most influential among those outlets is The Defense Post[28], a website that specializes in defense reporting and The College Post,[29] a news outlet that covers higher education in the U.S.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Graham-Harrison, Emma (2016-07-30). "'Young, old, conservative, liberal': Turkey in shock over journalists' arrest". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-01-31. 
  2. ^ "The Globe Post - News From US and Around the World - The Globe Post". The Globe Post. Retrieved 2018-01-31. 
  3. ^ "Mahir Zeynalov - Al Arabiya English". english.alarabiya.net. Retrieved 2018-01-31. 
  4. ^ "Mahir Zeynalov | HuffPost". www.huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2018-01-31. 
  5. ^ Reporter, Akbar Shahid Ahmed Foreign Affairs; Post, The Huffington (2016-09-24). "Erdogan Banned Turkish Reporter From Twitter Because He Doesn't Care What You Think". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-11-06. 
  6. ^ "A who's who of the foreign-policy Twitterverse in 2013". 
  7. ^ "A who's who of the foreign-policy Twitterverse in 2012". 
  8. ^ "14 Reliable Sources to Follow on Twitter for Syria News". 
  9. ^ Zeynalov, Mahir (2017-11-12). "The First Wave of Autocracy -- Democracy in Decline". The Globe Post. Retrieved 2018-05-03. 
  10. ^ "Cemaat yazarından ihanet dolu tweetler!". 
  11. ^ "Today's Zaman journalist dismisses charges in testimony". 
  12. ^ "Arınç: Sınır Dışı Edilen Gazeteciye Basın Kartı Verilmedi". 
  13. ^ "Zeynalov'un sınırdışı edilmesine tepki". 
  14. ^ "Oomen-Ruijten cites media freedom concerns after Zeynalov's deportation". 
  15. ^ "Opposition slams gov't for deporting Azerbaijani reporter". 
  16. ^ "In Scandal, Turkey's Leaders May Be Losing Their Tight Grip on News Media". 
  17. ^ "CPJ criticizes Turkish gov't over Zeynalov's deportation". 
  18. ^ "Int'l press organizations rally behind deported Today's Zaman journalist". 
  19. ^ "Decision to deport journalist anti-democratic, say journalists' associations". 
  20. ^ "US calls on Turkey to uphold fundamental freedoms after Zeynalov's deportation". 
  21. ^ Graham-Harrison, Emma (2016-07-30). "'Young, old, conservative, liberal': Turkey in shock over journalists' arrest". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-11-06. 
  22. ^ The names and faces of Turkey's media crackdown - CNN Video, retrieved 2016-11-06 
  23. ^ "Twitter Refuses to Block Account of Noted Turkish Journalist". Motherboard. Retrieved 2016-11-06. 
  24. ^ Board, Editorial (2016-10-06). "Twitter shouldn't let itself become a tool for tyrants". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-11-06. 
  25. ^ Writer, Staff (2018-03-20). "The Globe Post -- About Us". The Globe Post. Retrieved 2018-05-03. 
  26. ^ "The Globe Post - News From US and Around the World - The Globe Post". The Globe Post. Retrieved 2018-01-31. 
  27. ^ "Click on Markers to Get our Latest Reporting from that area". My Maps. Retrieved 2018-01-31. 
  28. ^ "The Defense Post • Global defense news, analysis and opinion". The Defense Post. Retrieved 2018-01-31. 
  29. ^ "The College Post".