Zaman daily Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı arrived at the daily's headquarters in Yenibosna on Saturday after having been released pending trial in a government-orchestrated police operation.
Dumanlı, who was released pending trial together with seven police officers by a court designed by the government following two major graft probes last December, is charged with forming and leading an armed terrorist organization.
Four of the 12 suspects who were referred to court for arrest as part of the operation to silence the media were arrested on charges of terrorism, one of whom is Samanyolu Broadcasting Group Chairman Hidayet Karaca.
Dumanlı was welcomed by a crowd of Zaman staff who chanted slogans supporting press freedom.
Addressing the Zaman staff, Dumanlı thanked those who stood in solidarity with him during his detention by the police. The journalist also called on Turkish journalists to raise their voice against increasing pressure on the media and unite against oppression. “Despite our differences, journalists should unite against oppression,” he said.
“If I failed to answer single question [by the judge and the prosecutor], I would have been too ashamed to return here,” he said during his speech.
He also slammed the arrest of Karaca, saying he was arrested for airing a completely fictional soap opera.
“My colleague Hidayet Karaca is a political captive,” he said.
Dumanlı was asked during the judicial process why he had published two columns in the paper that were written by two contributors and one news story that featured a speech made by Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. Dumanlı had responded to the charges by saying he has been professionally managing the newspaper for the last 13 years and cannot interfere with critical articles written by columnists that are regular contributors to the paper. He said columnists have the right to freedom of speech and expression.
As for the news story in 2009 which featured a warning by Gülen about the activities of the al-Qaeda-affiliated armed Tahşiyeciler (Annotators) group, Dumanlı said Gülen's public speech was posted on the Islamic scholar's own website -- Herkul.org -- and carried newsworthy items that deserved coverage on the relevant page in the newspaper. He said other newspapers, such as the Hürriyet and Vatan dailies, also covered Gülen's speech.
Published on Today's Zaman, 20 December 2014, Saturday