Turkish gov’t detains nationalist news portal’s editor over alleged links to Gülen movement

Journalist İsmail Türk, the editor-in-chief of a nationalist online news portal, Haber Erk and a former columnist for the Yeniçağ daily newspaper has been detained by Turkish government of autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over his alleged links to the Gülen movement on Thursday.

It was reported that Ankara police detained journalist Türk at Esenboğa Airport as part of an investigation into the movement. Pro-government Sabah daily reported that Türk used wrote columns for allegedly the Gülen movement-linked Rota Haber online news portal and often appeared at Samanyolu TV as commentator before both media outlets were shut down by Erdoğan government over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Sabah daily also accused Türk of supporting recently found İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener against Erdoğan’s ally Devlet Bahçeli, the chairman of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) who has dramatically turned from opposition to an ally of the President Erdoğan.

Meanwhile, an Antalya man, identified by his initials H.C., was put in pretrial detention for allegedly insulting Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on social media. Antalya police earlier detained 10 people over similar charges, of whom one was later jailed and the remaining 9 were released on judicial control, Turkish media reported.

As of the end of 2016, at least 10,000 people were under investigation on suspicion of terrorist propaganda and insulting senior state officials on social media. A total of 1,080 people were convicted of insulting Erdoğan in 2016, according to data from Turkey’s Justice Ministry. Data also showed that 4,936 cases were launched against people on charges of insult in 2016.

Also on Wednesday, Turkish Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya prevented a FOX TV reporter to record her voice during a speech she made on the sidelines of an İstanbul event. “Take it out. I am not going to talk to that,” Kaya said pointing to a FOX TV mic and told the reporter: “Don’t take it personal. It has nothing to do with you.”

Kaya’s embargo came weeks after the FOX TV anchorman İsmail Küçükkaya implied that the minister’s husband had used the controversial mobile app, ByLock. To the government, ByLock is a communication tool among the alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Thousands of people including Taner Kılıç, the chairman of Amnesty International’s Turkey branch have been arrested over ByLock use so far.

Denying the claims of divorcing her husband over ByLock use, Minister Kaya had tweeted that “The allegations of some media organs about my husband and I are false. I am taking legal action against this smear campaign.”

Küçükkaya apologized for tweeting about the minister’s private life while standing by his claim that Kaya’s husband used ByLock.

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 November 21, 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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