October 26, 2015

Prosecutor ordered arrest of journalists without seeing Tahşiye dossier, documents reveal

The prosecutor who is supervising a government-orchestrated investigation against a number of media outlets who support the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen for allegedly targeting and framing the al-Qaeda-affiliated Tahşiye group ordered the arrest of a number of journalists without reading the court file detailing the Tahşiye case, a news portal reported on Monday.

According to documents that were published in a story on the Samanyolu Haber website, on Nov. 25, 2014, İstanbul Public Prosecutor Hasan Yılmaz requested the dossier of a probe into Tahşiye that was overseen by the Bakırköy 3rd High Criminal Court in İstanbul. However, the court refused Yılmaz's request in a letter dated March 9, 2015, saying that the case had been transferred to the Supreme Court of Appeals.

In an operation on Dec. 14, 2014, Zaman Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı, Samanyolu network executive Hidayet Karaca and a number of soap opera scriptwriters and police officers were detained on charges of terrorism and of being part of a gang that conspired against Tahşiye, following a speech by Gülen in 2009 in which he warned against a group that "might" be called Tahşiye and was linked to al-Qaeda. The prosecutors who ordered the Dec. 14 detentions claimed that following Gülen's speech, Dumanlı ordered two columnists to write about Tahşiye and that he published a news report on the speech. The allegations also claim that Samanyolu TV made implications about the group in an episode of a soap opera it broadcast. It is further claimed that the police then “unfairly” raided the Tahşiye.

Karaca and three police officers have remained behind bars since Dec. 14, 2013. However, Dumanlı, the script writers and the producers of the soap opera were released pending trial. In the report, Samanyolu Haber claim that Karaca and the other suspects in the case are being kept behind bars by Yılmaz despite the fact that he has not seen the original Tahşiye dossier.

The suspects in the case are accused of targeting and framing Tahşiye, whose leader -- Mehmet Doğan -- said in a live interview with CNN Türk last year that he "loves Osama bin Laden," the slain leader of al-Qaeda.

In an operation against Tahşiye in 2009, police found a large cache of weapons including hand grenades. Yılmaz described the group as "innocent," while calling the Gülen movement a "terrorist organization." The indictment failed to provide evidence to show that the Gülen movement possesses weapons.

In a decade-long trial, Gülen was exonerated of charges that he was trying to overthrow the government. According to Turkish law, a person cannot be prosecuted based on an allegation of which he or she has previously been acquitted.

Published on Today's Zaman, 26 October 2015, Monday