Nurullah Albayrak, the lawyer representing Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, on Thursday issued a written warning to pro-government media outlets on social media for their persistent use of the expressions “parallel structure” -- a term invented by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to refer to followers of the Hizmet movement -- and “Fethullah Gülen terrorist organization” -- referred to in the dailies as FETÖ -- on the grounds that they are making baseless claims regarding the faith-based movement.
The warning, posted on Albayrak's Twitter account, notes that Gülen was acquitted of similar accusations of terrorism by a decision from the Ankara 11th High Criminal Court that was later upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals.
The lawyer states that using the expressions “parallel structure” and “Fethullah Gülen terrorist organization” is unjust and against the law because it violates the principle of presumption of innocence according to Article 38 of the Constitution, which states everyone is presumed innocent unless proven guilty, regardless of the nature or seriousness of the charges against them, in a state governed by the rule of law.
If the pro-government media organs continue to use the two abovementioned expressions, a complaint will be filed against them, Albayrak emphasized in the warning.
When a massive corruption investigation into the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) became public on Dec. 17, 2013, the AK Party responded to the graft allegations by claiming that a "parallel structure" affiliated with Hizmet was behind the corruption probe and that it sought to overthrow his government, although he was unable to produce any proof to support this claim. In May 2014, Erdoğan said he would fight the “parallel structure” by all means, even if this meant a “witch hunt.” He removed police officers and members of the judiciary from their positions and reappointed them to less influential posts or expelled them completely whenever possible.
Several businessmen close to the government as well as the sons of three ministers were detained in the investigation on Dec. 17. However, the probe was stalled after the government took the prosecutors conducting it off the case in response to the allegations leveled against it and it was later discontinued after government-friendly prosecutors took over the case.
Published on Today's Zaman, 4 September 2015, Friday