December 18, 2014

Why the case against these journalists is so suspicious

Orhan Kemal Cengiz

Governmental circles and their supporters in the media say “journalists are not immune from committing crimes.” There is no doubt about that. Of course journalists may commit crimes.

However, when journalists who are critical of the government in power begin to be arrested, there is always a suspicion that they may be targeted because of their stance against the government, not for any alleged crimes they committed.

When I was writing this piece, Ekrem Dumanlı, editor-in-chief of the Zaman daily, and other journalists were waiting for the decision of a judge who will decide whether to send them to prison or set them free.

In their cases, the suspicion of a political motivation and motive of revenge are very strong. First of all, they are being arrested in an operation which has been promoted and propagated by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for a long time. There is not one single speech that Erdoğan makes in which he does no talk about the so-called “parallel state,” which he uses to refer to the Gülen movement.

When we start to look at specific details of the “operation” against Dumanlı and the others we see extremely suspicious elements.

It is alleged that in 2009 the police targeted Tahşiyeciler, an al-Qaeda-affiliated group, after Fethullah Gülen spoke out against them; the accusation is that when the police planted bombs in the homes of the members of the organization after this, Dumanlı and others were preparing the ground for this operation by publishing pieces targeting the group.

We understand from the words of Bülent Arınç, the government's spokesperson, that the police who conducted the operation against Dumanlı called the members of the accused in the Tahşiyeciler case to ask if they wish to complain against the “parallel state.” As you see, there was no voluntary complaint about anyone. After securing these complaints, they launched this operation.

The questions that were put to Dumanlı during his interrogation by the police department are leaking. They asked if he knows Fethullah Gülen, if Fethullah Gülen has given him any task, if he knows what Tahşiyeciler means, if Zaman's editing policies are determined by Fethullah Gülen, and so on. I cannot see any specific accusation in any single question that has been put to Dumanlı.

I should tell you that this government has been preparing for the last year for this so-called “parallel structure operation.” All decisions in this operation were made by special judges and prosecutors who were appointed after recent changes in the specific laws concerning them.

They now want us to believe that there is a genuine criminal investigation against Dumanlı and the other journalists. They now want us to believe that this prosecution is being handled by independent prosecutors and judges. They now want us to believe that this investigation has nothing to do with Erdoğan's ambitions to silence, tame and make all the media outlets in Turkey obey him.

Well, they will now say that you should wait for the indictment to decide. I do not agree with them at all. There are very strong suspicions about this investigation and it is the government who should immediately explain all evidence and accusations against these journalists.

Otherwise, there is a strong case showing that this prosecution is just a means to persecute journalists by a ruler who wants to silence all critical voices in this country.

Published on Today's Zaman, 18 December 2014, Thursday