World Bulletin/News Desk
Police detained the editor-in-chief of Turkey’s Zaman daily Sunday, bringing the total number of people in custody to 25 in an ongoing crackdown on local media figures and police officials in 13 provinces across Turkey.
All the people detained have been alleged to be linked with the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen and his so called Gulen movement.
Police took Ekrem Dumanli into custody from the Zaman's office in Istanbul.
Dumanli, who is a staunch critic of the government, dismissed all allegations against him and claimed his innocence in a speech at the daily's building before he was taken away by the police.
"We have no fear as we have no fault," the Zaman editor said in a speech, which was televised live.
His lawyer, Hasan Gunaydin, read out the charges against the editor, which included allegations of deprivation of liberty, forgery in official documents, forming a crime organization by force, menace and compulsion.
Hundreds of people surrounded the Zaman building when Dumanli was being taken away. They strongly condemned the police operation and termed it an attempt to muzzle the free press in the country.
Former ruling AK Party deputies, Idris Bal, Hakan Sukur and former interior minister Idris Naim Sahin were among the daily’s supporters in the crowd.
Zaman daily is alleged to be close to the so-called Gulen movement.
Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor Hadi Salihoglu said it ordered the detention of 31 people on charges of forgery, fabricating evidence and forming an alleged crime syndicate to overtake the sovereignty of the state. Earlier, it was reported that the prosecutor’s office had given the order for 32 detentions, but Salihoglu revised down the figure to 31.
Hidayet Karaca, chairman of the Samanyolu Media Group, is another senior media figure who was detained earlier in the day.
Producer Salih Aslan and Director Engin Koc of a Samanyolu TV series were also taken into custody in Eskisehir province and sent to Istanbul, police said.
Makbule Cam Alemdag, scriptwriter of another TV series, that used to broadcast on Tek Turkiye or One Turkey, was also detained in Van province.
Turgay Balaban, a lawyer for Aslan and Koc, said the two were detained over allegations of framing other people through their TV show as part of an alleged Gulen movement operation in 2010 against a "radical" group. The leader of the group, Mehmet Dogan, served 17 months in jail and was said to be a foe of Gulen, Turkish media reports said.
According to the prosecutor’s office in Istanbul, former chief of Istanbul's anti-terrorism police department, Tufan Erguder, former Istanbul deputy chief of police, Mutlu Ekizoglu, and Erhan Ercikti, former public security chief of Istanbul police department, are also among the detainees.
Two police captains, one in eastern Erzurum province and the other in Batman province, and five other police officers in eastern Sanliurfa, Elazig, Tunceli, Mardin and central Kahramanmaras provinces were also been detained in the ongoing police operation.
English-language Today's Zaman editor Bulent Kenes told Reuters police had shown them documentation which referred to a charge of 'forming a gang to try and seize state sovereignty'.
Main opposition CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu called the operations part of a "coup process", telling reporters his party was on the side of the victims, whoever they are.
Government ministers declined to make specific comments on the raids, but Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu said "anyone who does wrong pays the price", state media reported.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to take to task the alleged Gulen movement group members on numerous occasions. The government has described the movement and its supporters as the "parallel state" since late 2013.
Referring to the alleged parallel structure, Erdogan told Turkish businessmen in Istanbul on Dec. 6 that there would be "no mercy" for any type of treason.
Also, on Dec. 1, an Ankara court approved an indictment prepared by a public prosecutor as part of an investigation into the alleged wiretapping of Erdogan's office when he was Turkey's prime minister.
Erdogan revealed in late 2012 that a bug had been found in his office and charges of political spying were brought against 13 suspects, including senior police officers.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan on Nov. 18 also described the alleged parallel structures within the state as harmful to democracy and the nation's will.
In December 2013, an anti-graft probe targeted several high-profile figures, including the sons of three former government ministers and leading Turkish businessmen.
The government then denounced the December probe as a "dirty plot" constructed by a "parallel state," an alleged group of bureaucrats embedded in the country's institutions, including the judiciary and the police.
Since then, hundreds of police officers have been detained on charges of eavesdropping on Turkey's top officials, disclosing highly-sensitive information; forming an organization to commit crime and being a member of this organization; violating privacy; illegally seizing personal information and forgery of official documents.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 14 Aralık 2014, 16:14