Pro-Erdoğan newspapers Türkiye, Güneş, Sabah, Akşam and Star have showed 29 critical journalists, writeres and activists as new targets for Turkish government persecution on Tuesday by claiming that they are planning to topple down the government.
The list published by Erdoğanist dailies has included leftist Evrensel daily’s editor-in-chief Fatih Polat, General Secretary of Press Council and Cumhuriyet daily columnist Zeynel Lüle, DİSK Press Branch Chairman Faruk Eren, academic and Evrensel columnist Ceren Sözeri, jailed human rights activist Özlem Dalkıran, journalists Banu Güven, Barış Terkoğlu and jailed journalist Ahmet Şık’s wife Yonca Verdioğlu Şık.
Sabah and Star dailies, which were managed by Erdoğan’s close circles, have claimed that the links of the human rights defenders, who were detained during a meeting on Büyükada and later were arrested by an İstanbul court, with Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) were exposed.
As Sabah daily has claimed that İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office has determined the jailed human rights defenders had relations with two CHP municipalities, Star daily has claimed that the İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office has found a Whatsapp group where the jailed human righst defenders contacted with other people including journalists Banu Güven, Elif Ilgaz, Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, Canan Coşkun and Erol Önderoğlu. The paper has also claimed that the Whatsapp group (as if it was a crime) under the name of “July 24; we are free together” was formed by Özelm Dalkıran.
The lists of journalists, columnists, writers and human rights activists who were showed as new targets for Turkish government persecution are as follow:
Özlem Dalkıran (administrator), Rengin Arslan (BBC Türkçe), Banu Güven (İMC TV), Faruk Arhan (Journalist), Ceren Sözeri (Evrensel daily columnist); Gökhan Tan (Journalist), Ayça Söylemez (BirGün daily columnist), Faruk Eren (DİSK Press Union Chairman), Elif Ilgaz (Journalist), Elif Akgül (Cumhuriyet daily reporter), Zeynel Lüle (Cumhuriyet daily columnist), Nazan Özcan (Cumhuriyet daily reporter), Yonca Verdioğlu Şık (jailed journalist Ahmet Şık’s wife), Ümit Alan (BirGün daily columnist), Murat Kaspar (art director of Tarih magazin), Filiz Yavuz (Doğan news agency’s Spain correspondent), Güventürk Görgülü (Dünya daily’s reporter), Ertuğrul Mavioğlu (Ot magazine columnist), Gülşah Karadağ (Karşı daily reporter), Candan Yıldız (İMC TV), Erol Önderoğlu (Cumhuriyet daily writer and RSF’s Turkey representative), Zeynep Erdim (BBC reporter), Canan Coşkun (Cumhuriyet daily reporter), Fatih Polat (Evrensel daily’s editor-in-chief and columnist), Alper Turgut (Cumhuriyet daily’s former reporter), Timur Soykan (Cumhuriyet daily reporter), Nevin Sungur (Al Jazeera Türk’s former reporter), Barış Terkoğlu (Odatv columnist), Barış Pehlivan (Odatv columnist).
According to a report by Bianet.org, “The Journalists Outside” have reacted to the reports covered by the pro-government media. Saying that the names of the people in the group and their workplaces were full of mistakes, the group stated that Whatsapp conversations were introduced like they were elements of a crime in the report. The statement of the “The Journalists Outside” read as follow:
“The pro-government Türkiye, Güneş, Sabah, Akşam and Star newspapers don’t write the truth. They are casting aspersion on us journalists with doctored news. Besides the typos, even the information related to who works where and even the images used in the report are wrong. We will not fix those because there is nothing to fix in those writings. None of them are true. We will file a criminal complaint against these people and newspapers.”
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has showed that 277 journalists and media workers are now in jails as of August 15, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 252 are arrested pending trial, only 25 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 135 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 controversial coup attempt. Turkey’s Contemporary Journalists’ Association (ÇGD) recently announced that more than 900 press cards were cancelled.