Osman Yakut, a newly married Turkish journalist, behind bars for 17 months

Osman Yakut, a Turkish journalist, who used to work at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper’s Antalya office, has been under arrest pending trial for 17 months over his alleged links to the Gülen movement, said his wife Gülizar Yakut.

According to a report by local newspaper Antalya Körfez, the court in charge ruled to keep behind bars four arrested suspects including Yakut and Zaman daily’s Antalya representative Tuncer Çetinkaya, in a trial against the Gülen movement’s alleged supporters. Zaman was earlier shut down over its alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement. The final hearing was scheduled for Feb. 1, 2018.

“My husband neither has Bylock nor has he another evidence against him. He has been under arrest just because of the testimony of a witness from his education years. There is no other accusation. My husband was arrested 10 months after we got married and he has been in jail for 17 months. We are separated for longer than we lived together. I want to get rid of courtrooms and struggle to earn a living like normal people. I am tired of going home alone,” said Osman Yakut’s wife.

Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among the alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Both Tuncer Çetinkaya and Osman Yakut are accused of membership to a “terror group” and face from 7 to 17 years in jail.

Tuncer Çetinkaya’s daughter Rahime Gül Çetinkaya earlier begged for help for her father who, she said, faces the risk of death from serious health complications. “My father lost 30 kg after he was jailed. He has been diagnosed with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. Despite a medical report stating that he must remain at home, they have not released my father,” Çetinkaya’s daughter said mid last month.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 256 journalists and media workers are in jails as of December 7, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 230 are arrested pending trial, only 26 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 Gülen movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempton July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup. (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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