Turkey arrests jailed journalist Karayeğen’s daughter, aged 23, over “terror” charges

Jailed journalist İbrahim Karayeğen

Zeliha Esra Karayeğen, the 23-year-old daughter of jailed journalist İbrahim Karayeğen was put in pre-trial arrest on charge of membership to a terrorist organization on Friday.

A former managing editor at the government-closed Zaman newspaper, Karayeğen was reportedly detained at İstanbul Atatürk Airport while he was fleeing Turkey’s post-coup crackdown on dissident voices that put more than 280 journalists and media workers behind bars.

Zeliha Esra Karayeğen

According to journalist Harun Odabaşı, Karayeğen’s daughter Zeliha Esra was also detained and sent to jail on charges of membership to the Gülen movement. Among the evidences for the Zeliha Esra Karayegen’s arrest are her alleged use of ByLock mobile phone messaging application, her application for passport and the allegation that she deposited money into the now-closed private lender Bank Asya, which was closed by Erdoğan’s despotic regime in wake of controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

“Many people sought over Gülen links live as fugitives abroad,” the judge said as part of his/her decision to arrest Zeliha Esra Karayeğen.

Although Zeliha Esra Karayeğen and her lawyer demanded the opportunity to present a defense against the accusations, the judge said it was “not necessary” and ruled for her arrest.

Former Zaman daily newsroom editor İbrahim Karayeğen disappeared immediately after a failed coup on July 15, 2016. His family and friends searched for him for weeks through the authorities. It later came to light that Karayeğen was among the first journalists who were imprisoned on the night of the coup attempt. Since then, he has been in pretrial detention in İstanbul’s imfamous Silivri Prison.

“Karayegen’s daughter was reportedly detained at the the police station where she had visited only to get a document required for her job application. 23-year-old Zeliha Esra Karayegen has reportedly never used the sim card registered on ByLock app. But neither the prosecutor nor the judge noted notice of that,” journalist Harun Odabaşı posted on his Twitter account on Friday.

ByLock, a smart phone application, is seen as a sign of being a member of the Gülen movement. The mobile phone application ByLock is considered to be the top communication tool among the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

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 283 journalists and media workers are now in jails as of August 18, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 258 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.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President 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. 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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