Turkey po­lice de­tains oppn news­pa­per staff over coup

Editor-in-chief, dozen staff de­tained

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Turk­ish po­lice de­tained the editor and a dozen se­nior staff from the main sec­u­lar­ist op­po­si­tion news­pa­per yes­ter­day, a day af­ter 10,000 more civil ser­vants were sacked over sus­pected links to a failed July coup. Turkey’s crack­down since rogue sol­diers tried to seize power on July 15 has alarmed Western al­lies and rights groups, who fear Pres­i­dent Tayyip Er­do­gan is us­ing the coup at­tempt to crush dis­sent. More than 110,000 peo­ple have been sacked or sus­pended and 37,000 ar­rested over the past three and a half months.

The Is­tan­bul prose­cu­tor’s of­fice said the staff from the Cumhuriyet daily, one of few me­dia out­lets still crit­i­cal of Er­do­gan, were sus­pected of com­mit­ting crimes on be­half of Kur­dish mil­i­tants and the net­work of Fethul­lah Gulen, a US-based cleric. Turkey ac­cuses Gulen of or­ches­trat­ing the coup at­tempt, in which he de­nies any in­volve­ment. Cumhuriyet said on its web­site that 12 of its staff had been de­tained and some had their lap­tops seized from their homes. Footage showed one writer, Ay­din En­gin, 75, be­ing ush­ered by plain clothes po­lice into a hospi­tal for med­i­cal checks. Asked by re­porters to com­ment on his de­ten­tion, En­gin said: “I work for Cumhuriyet, isn’t that enough?”

The govern­ment has said its mea­sures are jus­ti­fied by the threat posted to the state by the coup at­tempt, in which more than 240 peo­ple were killed. Er­do­gan says the crack­down is cru­cial for “cleans­ing” the state ap­pa­ra­tus of Gu­lenist in­flu­ence. “An in­ves­ti­ga­tion was launched...due to al­le­ga­tions and as­sess­ments that shortly be­fore the at­tempted coup, ma­te­rial was pub­lished jus­ti­fy­ing the coup,” the prose­cu­tor’s of­fice said. On Sun­day, 10,000 civil ser­vants were dis­missed and 15 more me­dia out­lets or­dered closed over sus­pected links to Gulen’s net­work and mil­i­tant groups. A court also jailed, pend­ing trial, the co-may­ors of the largely Kur­dish city of Diyarbakir.

Be­fore turn­ing him­self in, veteran car­toon­ist Musa Kart told re­porters out­side the Cumhuriyet’s of­fices that he was not fright­ened by the crack­down. “This is a com­i­cal sit­u­a­tion. I would like to say that you won’t be able to frighten any­one with pres­sure. It is not pos­si­ble for peo­ple with a con­science to ac­cept this. You can’t ex­plain this to the world. I am be­ing de­tained solely for draw­ing car­i­ca­tures,” he said. Cumhuriyet’s pre­vi­ous editor, Can Dun­dar, was jailed last year for pub­lish­ing state se­crets in­volv­ing Turkey’s sup­port for Syr­ian rebels. The case sparked cen­sure from rights groups and Western gov­ern­ments wor­ried about wors­en­ing hu­man rights in Turkey un­der Er­do­gan. Cumhuriyet said Dun­dar, who was freed in Fe­bru­ary and is now abroad, was one of those fac­ing ar­rest. — Reuters

IS­TAN­BUL: Protesters hold signs read­ing ‘Peo­ple have right to have news’ dur­ing a protest in front of op­po­si­tion Cumhuriyet news­pa­per in Is­tan­bul yes­ter­day af­ter a po­lice op­er­a­tion at the daily’s head­quar­ters. — AFP

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