The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into independent deputy and journalist Ahmet Şık over remarks supporting weeks-long protests in Turkey against the appointment of a loyalist as rector of Boğaziçi University in Istanbul.
According to a statement by the prosecutor’s office, some websites have reported that Şık called on people to demonstrate, saying that was the only way the government would fall. “The Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into Şık for using the Boğaziçi University protests as a pretext for calling on people to demonstrate,” the statement said.
For weeks, Boğaziçi University students and faculty members have been protesting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s appointment of Melih Bulu, an academic who once ran for parliament as a candidate for Erdoğan’s party, as rector. They are calling for Bulu’s resignation and for the university to be allowed to elect its own president.
Some of the protests have erupted into clashes between police and demonstrators, and hundreds of people have been detained, some taken away following raids on their homes, even as Erdoğan has promised reforms to strengthen democratic standards.
Şık went to the courthouse in solidarity with the detained students where he made a public statement, saying, “No one should expect them [the government] to go out with a democratic election. You cannot fight the mafia with their laws. We need laws that are compatible with international standards.”
Speaking to the Evrensel daily, Şık said he had called for people to exercise their citizenship rights within the framework of international human rights and participate in the struggle against the “government’s arbitrary laws.”
He added that everyone had the responsibility to challenge President Erdoğan’s regime. However, his words were interpreted as a call to riot against the government by some social media news websites.
Şık said he was targeted by pro-government journalist Hilal Kaplan and Twitter trolls who had taken his words out of context. Kaplan had shared a video of Şık on Twitter making the statement in question and said, “If he were in the United States, he would have been arrested.”
“Of course, the judiciary is doing what it has been ordered to do. If they think I’m afraid of going to prison, they are wrong,” Şık said.
Şık said the investigation was proof that he was right. “I said there was no real law in Turkey and that we were made to live under mafia law. Now they have proved my point.”
Şık, was elected to the Turkish Parliament from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in 2018 but resigned from the party in May 2020. He was a journalist for several major newspapers including Cumhuriyet, Radikal and Evrensel. He was imprisoned for 15 months between December 2016 and March 2018 due to his tweets and news stories.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in November 2020 that Turkey had violated his right to liberty and security as well as the right to freedom of expression.