Turkey detains former news director of a sport channel in new post-coup probe

Yasir Kaya

Yasir Kaya, a TV presenter and the former news director of Fenerbahçe football club’s official TV channel was detained on Friday following the detentions warrants issued by İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office for 35 journalists over their alleged use of ByLock mobile phone messaging appliaction.

İstanbul police detained Fenerbahçe TV’s former news director Yasir Kaya in an investigation which has been carried out as part of Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Birgün daily newspaper’s editor Burak Ekici, Vatan newspaper’s page editor Yusuf Duran; İhlas news agency’s former news chief Ömer Faruk Aydemir; former Türkiye daily columnist Ahmet Sağırlı, former Zaman reporter Muhsin Pilgir; former Cihan news agency reporter Sait Gürkan Tuzlu; former Samanyolu TV news editor Cüneyt Seza Özkan; former Cihan news agency reporter Mutlu Özay and Ahmet Feyzullah Özyurt are among the other journalists who were detained in the framework of the same probe. Police have yet to locate the remaining 24 journalists.

Turkish authorities believe using ByLock is a sign of being a Gülen movement member as they see the mobile phone application as the top communication tool among the group. Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

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 276 journalists and media workers are now in jails as of August 9, 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 24 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 110 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 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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