Pro-gov’t hitman calls for arrest of Hürriyet owner, journalist due to report on army

Cem Küçük, one of the most overbold hitmen of Turkey's autocratic President Erdoğan in his guided media.

Cem Küçük, a staunchly pro-government journalist known for his social media attacks on government critics, has called on prosecutors to take legal action against the Hürriyet daily’s owner Aydın Doğan and journalist Hande Fırat and ensure their arrest due to a report in the daily on Saturday about the military-government relationship.

In the report, which was written by Hürriyet’s Ankara Representative Fırat and was the daily’s major story on Saturday, military sources responded to widespread criticism claiming that the country’s General Staff is too close to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

The headline of the story was “The [military] headquarters is restless,” which meant to say that the General Staff was disturbed about such criticism.

Writing from his Twitter account on Saturday, Küçük said: “With this news report, Hande Fırat and Hürriyet committed suicide. This is no different than the ‘Young Officers Are Restless’ headline.”

The “Young Officers Are Restless” headline is a reference to a news report that appeared in the Cumhuriyet daily in May 2003 shortly after the AKP came to power as a single party government. The news report hinted at a military intervention because military officers were uneasy with the practices of the AKP government.

Küçük called on prosecutors to launch an investigation into Doğan and Fırat and ensure their arrest, claiming that writing such a headline is a crime.

Küçük also claimed that both Doğan and Fırat are enemies of democracy and that their anti-coup attitude during a failed coup attempt on July 15 was fake.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s chief advisor Yiğit Bulut also targeted Hürriyet daily and Doğan Media Group (DMG) for the story that reported the alleged discomfort within the military due to the removal of the headscarf ban for officers. Writing in his Twitter account, Bulut considered Hürriyet’s headline story on Saturday as a threat against Erdoğan and defied the elusive enemies.

¨Nobody center [of interest] could threaten the Turkish nation, state and the ummah¨ said Bulut as he claimed that the story aims to prevent Erdoğan’s upcoming visit to Russia without explaining by which means.

Critics of the government believe that Hürriyet could have published such a story on purpose to consolidate President Erdoğan’s base which is highly sensitive about the headscarf issue. Aykut Erdoğdu, a Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy said on Saturday in his Twitter account that the government aims to play the victim by means of a story reported by Fırat. For the CHP deputy, the headline is planned by the government and Hürriyet since ‘no’ votes seem ahead in the polls for the upcoming April 16 referendum that will bring executive presidency to Turkey.

Hande Fırat, who aired a FaceTime message from President Erdoğan on the evening of a coup attempt on July 15, has been so far lauded by government supporters. In his message, Erdoğan called on Turkish people to take to the streets to confront the coup plotters as a result of which thousands of people went into the streets to stop the coup.

Hürriyet has released a statement on Saturday regarding its headline story on Feb. 25 about the Turkish Armed Forces, and answered the various criticisms and claimed that all of accusations are malevolent. (SCF with Feb. 25, 2017

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