An indictment prepared by an İstanbul prosecutor seeks three years sentence for Mümtaz’er Türköne, a political science professor and columnist for now-closed Zaman and Today’s Zaman dailies on charges of “threatening Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan” in a column he wrote on February 2016.
Türköne was arrested in late July 2016 along with 11 more editors and columnists at the Zaman media group over allegedly “being involved” in the last year’s failed coup attempt. Türköne was detained in Yalova after police officers searched his house and sent to jail by the İstanbul 3rd Penal Court of Peace.
He is accused of being linked the “Fetullahist Terrorist Organization” [FETÖ]. “FETÖ” is a derogatory term amounts to a hate speech and relentlessly perpetuated by Turkey autocratic President Erdoğan and his government to smear the Gülen movement which is inspired by the US-based Turkish Muslim intellectual Fethullah Gülen who is one of the vocal critics of Turkish government. Gülen has been outspoken figure in lambasting Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on corruption that was exposed in December 2013 as well as Ankara’s aiding and abetting of radical groups in Syria that was uncovered with illegal shipment revelation in January 2014.
Erdoğan launched a witch-hunt persecution against Gülen and his followers and vowed to pursue them abroad no matter where they are. Turkish government shut down all institutions affiliated with the movement and jailed over 50.000 people in the last nine months alone. He labelled the movement as ‘FETÖ’, a terrorist organization, although Gülen, 75-year old cleric, and his followers have never advocated violence but rather remained staunchly opposed to any violence, radicalism and terror in the name of religion.
Erdoğan has also blamed the failed coup bid last year to Gülen but failed to present any direct evidence linking the cleric to the attempt. Gülen himself strongly denied any involvement.
Trustees took over the management of Feza Publishing (Zaman media group) which includes the Zaman and Today’s Zaman dailies critical of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government on March 4, 2016. With the circulation of 600,000 copies per day, Zaman was Turkey’s best-selling daily before trustees were appointed in a government-orchestrated move. The paper and the Zaman media group’s all other publications were closed by an executive decree of Erdoğan regime just a few day after failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
In the days leading up the World Press Freedom Day on May 3, Turkey stands out from the crowd by a distant margin by holding a record number of 235 journalists and media workers behind bars, breaking an all time world record. More than half of the journalists who are in prison around the world are now located in Turkey, a member of the Council of Europe (CoE) and a candidate member for the European Union (EU).
Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has documented that 235 journalists are now in jails, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 214 are arrested pending trial, Only 21 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 103 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey. Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the coup attempt. (SCF with turkeypurge.com) May 2, 2017