FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Jailing Journalists in Plot-Mad Turkey

In case you hadn’t heard of ‘Ergenokon’, it’s an alleged plot by a gang of ultranationalist secularists, who are accused of plotting to trigger a military coup to topple the ruling Islamic-slanted Justice and Develoment Party (AKP) in Turkey by fomenting chaos in society with assassinations and bombings.  It is also thought to be part of the “Deep State,” an alleged unofficial organization of bureaucracy and military operating behind the scenes of the official state structure.

The Ergenekon Investigation, or Operation Sledgehammer began in 2008, and so did the arrests, which have been growing ever since.   To date, 249 senior military officers and 3,500 Kurdish politicians and activists have been jailed.  And after 3,845 investigations against journalists, more than 100 are now in prison, accused of violating secrecy or being members of illegal terrorist organizations, conspiring against the government with the aim of overthrowing it.

In a written statement the Platform for Solidarity with Imprisoned Journalists said “Turkey has the highest number of arrested journalists in the world. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) is abusing the anti-terror law.”

One such journalist, Soner Yalçın, a writer for an online news portal called Oda TV, known for its harsh criticism of government policies, was released on bail last week after 682 days in prison.  Pending trial, he has been slapped with an overseas travel ban and will be required to sign in at court on a weekly basis. Yalçın Küçük and Hanefi Avcı, the other two arrested suspects in the case investigating the alleged Ergenekon coup plot, were denied release. Authorities say the nationalist news website with which the journalists were connected was the media wing for Ergenekon.  They face up to 15 years in jail if convicted.

They were arrested during the ‘Oda TV Probe’, which began after law enforcement officials conducted a search of its offices in February last year. Also arrested as part of the Oda TV probe was former Police Chief Hanefi Avcıoğlu, who has written about the alleged infiltration of the police force by the Gülen community.  The suspects claim that incriminating documents found on their computers had been sent by viruses from outside by the religious Gülen movement. Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic cleric lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.  Some believe he secretly directs a number of Turkish bureaucrats, politicians, and journalists, as well as security forces, and had been behind the recently revealed bugging of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s office.  Gülen has been accused by some pro-government circles of having political ambitions.

Soner Yalçın called on the National Security Agency (MİT) and the Police Department to determine the perpetrators of the conspiracy.

“Who can be behind such a plot? Is it possible to stage such actions without having the support of the state intelligence?  We have been writing about them, that is why they trapped us by putting viruses on our computers,” he said, adding that the government also knew about “this center of evil.”

“What is missing is the political will to reveal this fact,” he said.  He called the current state of journalism in Turkey “vile”.

“Journalists should have said ‘stop there’ to the courts; what has saddened me is that I was charged for reporting, not for anything else,” he said. “How can you stand idly by such a case? How can you not protect the values of journalism, how you hold back from hitting the streets in protest?” he asked.

On release from prison in summer after being held for over a year for alleged connections to a terrorist group, journalist Ahmet Şık said:

“Around 100 journalists are currently serving time in prison, but freedom of expression is not merely a problem for journalists in this country. There are currently about 600 university students behind bars and over 6,000 under arrest in the KCK(Kurdistan Communities Union) trials.  We are going to keep waging this struggle.”

“To silence journalists is to silence the people. It is journalism that is on trial here, and the principle of confidentiality of the news source that is being stamped out.  The police, prosecutors and judges who executed this conspiracy will later enter this prison. I make a vow for this.”

Leader of the main opposition, Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, said “This country’s prisons should not be home to writers, intellectuals and students who demand free education.  Such an injustice might change its direction to target you in the near future. From wherever or whomever it is coming, injustice is injustice and should be met with a collaborative resistance by the whole intelligentsia and patriots of this country.”

The European Union and the United States have expressed concern over the apprehension of journalists in Turkey.

Meanwhile, political journalist Mustafa Balbay has completed his third year “under arrest” in jail – as yet convicted of no crime.

It may be true that the pen is mightier than the sword, but it takes a brave writer to wield it against the state in Turkey.

Michael Dickinson can be contacted at his website: http://yabanji.tripod.com/id18.html

More articles by:

Michael Dickinson can be contacted at michaelyabanji@gmail.com.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
July 23, 2019
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange and His Wiki Wicked leaks
Howard Lisnoff
What Has Happened to the U.S. Since the Kids Left Woodstock?
Victor Grossman
“How Could They?” Why Some Americans Were Drawn to the Communist Party in the 1940s
Gary Leupp
Minnesota, White People, Lutherans and Ilhan Omar
Binoy Kampmark
Lunar Narratives: Landing on the Moon, Politics and the Cold War
Richard Ward
Free La Donalda!
July 22, 2019
Michael Hudson
U.S. Economic Warfare and Likely Foreign Defenses
Evaggelos Vallianatos
If Japan Continues Slaughtering Whales, Boycott the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Mike Garrity
Emergency Alert For the Wild Rockies
Dean Baker
The U.S.-China Trade War: Will Workers Lose?
Jonah Raskin
Paul Krassner, 1932-2019: American Satirist 
David Swanson
U.S. Troops Back in Saudi Arabia: What Could Go Wrong?
Robert Fisk
American Visitors to the Gestapo Museum Draw Their Own Conclusions
John Feffer
Trump’s Send-Them-Back Doctrine
Kenn Orphan – Phil Rockstroh
Landscape of Anguish and Palliatives: Predation, Addiction and LOL Emoticons in the Age of Late Stage Capitalism
Karl Grossman
A Farmworkers Bill of Rights
Gary Leupp
Omar and Trump
Robert Koehler
Fighting Climate Change Means Ending War
Susie Day
Mexicans Invade US, Trump Forced to Go Without Toothbrush
Elliot Sperber
Hey Diddle Diddle, Like Nero We Fiddle
Weekend Edition
July 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
The Blob Fought the Squad, and the Squad Won
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
It Was Never Just About the Chat: Ruminations on a Puerto Rican Revolution.
Anthony DiMaggio
System Capture 2020: The Role of the Upper-Class in Shaping Democratic Primary Politics
Andrew Levine
South Carolina Speaks for Whom?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Big Man, Pig Man
Bruce E. Levine
The Groundbreaking Public Health Study That Should Change U.S. Society—But Won’t
Evaggelos Vallianatos
How the Trump Administration is Eviscerating the Federal Government
Pete Dolack
All Seemed Possible When the Sandinistas Took Power 40 years Ago
Ramzy Baroud
Who Killed Oscar and Valeria: The Inconvenient History of the Refugee Crisis
Ron Jacobs
Dancing with Dr. Benway
Joseph Natoli
Gaming the Climate
Marshall Auerback
The Numbers are In, and Trump’s Tax Cuts are a Bust
Louisa Willcox
Wild Thoughts About the Wild Gallatin
Kenn Orphan
Stranger Things, Stranger Times
Mike Garrity
Environmentalists and Wilderness are Not the Timber Industry’s Big Problem
Helen Yaffe
Cuban Workers Celebrate Salary Rise From New Economic Measures
Brian Cloughley
What You Don’t Want to be in Trump’s America
David Underhill
The Inequality of Equal Pay
David Macaray
Adventures in Script-Writing
David Rosen
Say Goodbye to MAD, But Remember the Fight for Free Expression
Nick Pemberton
This Is Heaven!: A Journey to the Pearly Gates with Chuck Mertz
Dan Bacher
Chevron’s Oil Spill Endangers Kern County
J.P. Linstroth
A Racist President and Racial Trauma
Binoy Kampmark
Spying on Julian Assange
Rose Ramirez – Dedrick Asante-Mohammad
A Trump Plan to Throw 50,000 Kids Out of Their Schools
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail