December 13, 2014

Whistleblower says anti-journalist gov’t operation to kick off Sunday

A Twitter user known by the pseudonym Fuat Avni, who has revealed many government-backed police operations to the public, has claimed that a major government-backed police operation targeting many Hizmet-affliated journalists will kick off on Sunday.

Avni said on Saturday night that the raids, which were originally planned to take place early on Friday morning but were postponed after he revealed the secret plans, will be carried out beginning on Sunday.

The whistleblower tweeted that due to strong reactions to the initial operation planned to be carried out on Friday, the police limited the list of journalists to be detained. He said liberal and main stream journalists will not be targeted “for now.”

He said in addition to several journalists, Fethullah Gülen, who inspires the Hizmet movement, is among the names to be detained during the operations. Gülen currently resides in the US in self-exile. Avni said his name was included in the detention list after pressure by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Among the journalists to be detained are Today’s Zaman Editor-in-Chief Bülent Keneş, Zaman daily Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı, Samanyolu Broadcasting Group General Manager Hidayet Karaca, Taraf daily and Today’s Zaman columnist Emre Uslu, Taraf daily reporter Mehmet Baransu and Bugün daily columnist Nuh Gönültaş.

Avni said the wave of operations that will kick off on Sunday will continue until Dec. 25.

The claim of mass detentions of some 400 people, including 150 journalists, was first raised on Thursday afternoon by Avni, who says he is among Erdoğan's inner circle. He has revealed many government-backed police operations to the public in the past, and though late at times, all the claims have turned out to be true.

Avni laid bare a three-stage plan orchestrated by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in close coordination with Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, Interior Minister Efkan Ala and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) head Hakan Fidan. Simultaneous police raids to be conducted in several provinces in Turkey will see the detention of more police chiefs who conducted investigations into corruption and al-Qaeda cells in Turkey.

Avni said the government will also detain hundreds of critical journalists, including the editors-in-chief of the Zaman, Today's Zaman, Bugün and Taraf dailies.

He said the operation will be expanded in the second and third stages to include prominent businesspeople, media owners, civil society representatives and more journalists. Avni claimed that the government has already planned who will replace the editors of the Hürriyet and Sözcü dailies.

The tweets of the whistleblower sparked public outrage, and hundreds of people gathered in front of the Zaman building in İstanbul's Yenibosna district on Thursday night to protest a possible operation against the journalists, objecting to what they consider to be increasingly authoritarian government practices to silence critical media.

Avni said earlier that the operation is an act of revenge for last year's major corruption and bribery scandal that implicated many state officials and pro-government businessmen.

A corruption scandal went on public on Dec. 17, 2013, and implicated then-prime minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and members of his family and inner circle in addition to businesspeople close to the government. The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government accuses the Hizmet movement of being behind the corruption and bribery scandal.

Published on Today's Zaman, 13 December 2014, Saturday