August 7, 2015

Karaca’s son: My father has been in jail for 10 months without an indictment

Sıdkı Karaca, the eldest son of Samanyolu Broadcasting Group General Manager Hidayet Karaca, who has been held in prison ever since a Dec. 14, 2014 government-orchestrated operation against media perceived as being sympathetic to the faith-based Gülen movement, has emphasized that no indictment against his father has ever been presented to a court even though 10 months have passed since his father was first imprisoned.

Speaking to the press after he, his younger brother and his mother visited Karaca in Silivri Prison on Wednesday, Sıdkı Karaca insisted that his father has broken no law. “If [prosecutors] are going to claim that he violated the law, they must submit the indictment to the court in order to start his trial,” he said.

Sıdkı Karaca stressed that his father and others who share his views had never intended to challenge the state, but had only attempted to raise their voices against injustice. He also stated that his father laments the recent violence across Turkey and is praying for peace.

Karaca, along with the editor-in-chief of the Zaman daily, Ekrem Dumanlı, police officers, and TV producers and script writers were detained as part of a major media crackdown on Dec. 14, 2014, aimed at intimidating media outlets critical of the government. The operation came just three days before the first anniversary of massive corruption investigations that were made public on Dec. 17 and 25, 2013. Karaca and three police officers were arrested on Dec. 19, 2014, while others, including Dumanlı, were released pending trial.

The only claims of evidence to support Karaca's arrest are based on the language of a TV series aired on Samanyolu TV in 2009, which mentions the Tahşiyeciler extremist organization. Tahşiyeciler, which is sympathetic to al-Qaeda, was later the target of a police operation that led to the imprisonment of its leaders.

İstanbul Public Prosecutor Hasan Yılmaz argues that Karaca plotted against this terrorist organization by sending messages to police chiefs encoded within the script of the TV series. The judge in the case used an illegally acquired phone conversation between Karaca and Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the Gülen movement, which is also popularly known as the Hizmet movement. The conversation was recorded in 2013, and was used to arrest Karaca for events that transpired in 2009, though the illegal wiretap was excluded from the case after Karaca's lawyers objected.

The İstanbul 32nd Criminal Court of First Instance ruled on April 25 to release Karaca and 63 police chiefs who had been arrested in other government-backed operations in 2014, after the İstanbul 29th Criminal Court of First Instance accepted a petition from Karaca's lawyers asking for the case to go before a new judge. However, the judges who had issued the orders for release were shortly discharged by the government-backed Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), which then invalidated their rulings. The two judges were jailed when the government described the rulings as a "coup against the government."

Published on Today's Zaman, 06 August 2015, Thursday