Hidayet Karaca, a prominent journalist and former chief executive of the Samanyolu Media Group who was arrested in 2014 and sentenced to aggravated life, has spent more than eight years in a one-person prison cell, Bold Medya reported.
“My husband, Hidayet Karaca, is entering his 9th year in isolation [in prison],” his wife, Şule, said in a tweet, citing their demand for justice.
Eşim Hidayet Karaca;hak ,hukuk,adalet diyerek tecritte 9. senesine giriyor.
— Şule Karaca (@sulekaraca2010) December 14, 2022
Karaca faces additional sentences ranging from 893 to 2,445 years on various charges and has been held in the notorious Silivri Prison in İstanbul since December 2014. Karaca was sentenced by an İstanbul court to 31 years, six months’ imprisonment over the scenario of a TV series that was broadcast by Samanyolu TV.
He was also convicted of membership in a terrorist organization for his alleged ties to the Gülen movement. In June 2018 the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court handed down an aggravated life sentence to Karaca on charges of attempting to overturn the constitutional order. His sentence was later upheld by the Ankara Regional Court of Justice in November 2020 as part of a case that was launched against 75 people accused of links to the movement.
Karaca used to run major TV network Samanyolu, which aired coverage critical of the government of Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan before Karaca’s unlawful imprisonment in December 2014, a move that was described by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) as politically motivated. On June 4, 2022 the journalist was sentenced to 297 years, nine months at the end of a trial brought by the government.
The Turkish president has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He locked up thousands including many prosecutors, judges and police officers involved in the investigation as well as journalists who reported on it.
Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. The crackdown also targeted political opponents of the government, Kurdish activists and human rights defenders, among others. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.
Karaca applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in 2015. His lawyer Nurullah Albayrak told Bold Medya in 2020 that Turkey was pressuring the ECtHR not to conclude Karaca’s application and accused the court of engaging in discrimination against the journalist.
The Samanyolu Media Group is among the dozens of media organizations that were closed down by the Turkish government in the aftermath of the failed coup due to their links to the Gülen movement.
Turkey is one of the world’s top jailers of journalists, and mainstream media is controlled by people close to Erdoğan’s government, which denies accusations by human rights groups that it is muzzling the press.