December 14, 2014

Zaman editor-in-chief detained in media operation

Editor-in-chief of Turkey's Zaman daily, critical of the government, was detained on Sunday in a police operation that targeted journalists, TV script writers and former police officers.

Editor-in-chief of Zaman newspaper, Ekrem Dumanlı waves as he is detained.
Editor-in-chief of Zaman newspaper, Ekrem Dumanlı, (C) waves to colleagues as he is detained.

"The free press cannot be silenced," a crowd chanted at the offices of Zaman as a team of police officers from the counter-terror department of the İstanbul police detained Ekrem Dumanlı, the newspaper's editor-in-chief.

The chairman of Samanyolu TV, Hidayet Karaca, was also detained after he himself went to the police to turn himself in.

"This is a shameful sight for Turkey," Samanyolu TV group chairman Karaca told reporters before his detention. "Sadly in 21st Century Turkey this is the treatment they dish out to a media group with tens of television and radio stations, internet media and magazines."

Dumanlı and Karaca were detained along with more than 20 people in a nationwide operation early on Sunday. A list of suspects to be detained, released by İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, shows that a total of 32 people are to be detained.

The suspects are accused of "forming, leading or being a member of an armed terrorist organization," "forgery" and "slander," according to a statement released by the prosecutor's office.

The detentions came days after a government-sponsored bill that made it possible to arrest suspects based on "reasonable doubt" was signed into law.

Early on Sunday, police officers raided the houses of several screenwriters and producers across Turkey. Officers first detained Samayolu's Sungurlar TV series producers Salih Asan and Engin Koç, Tek Türkiye TV series screenwriter Ali Kara and former İstanbul anti-terrorism unit chief Tufan Ergüder. In Van, another Samanyolu TV screenwriter, Makbule Çam Alemdağ, was detained from her house.

An earlier document showed the suspects are accused of taking over the sovereignty of the Turkish Republic by pressure and threat, establishing an illegal gang, faking documents, restricting people's freedom and libel.

The police officials detained are reportedly those who carried out raids against the Tahşiye Group in 2009, which is allegedly linked to al-Qaeda.

Five police officials who are thought to be part of the "gang" are currently behind bars from a separate investigation. They will be brought to a courthouse for an interrogation.

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 14 December 2014, Sunday