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LOCAL >Turkey arrests two journalists from daily Sözcü

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A Turkish court arrested two journalists from daily Sözcü late on May 26 over alleged links to the July 15, 2016, failed coup attempt, widely believed to have been masterminded by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).

Gökmen Ulu, a correspondent in the western province of İzmir, and Mediha Olgun, an executive in charge of Sözcü’s website, were charged with “committing crimes on behalf of the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen without being members of it.” 

Ulu was also charged with “facilitating the physical assault and assassination of the president,” state-run Anadolu Agency reported.    
 
Yonca Yücekaleli, a finance executive at the paper who had also been detained, was released by the court.

The court dropped the charge of “membership to a terrorist organization” against Olgun and Ulu.

Ulu and Olgun were first detained on May 19 over an article published on the day of the coup attempt which gave details of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s holiday in the Aegean resort of Marmaris along with pictures of the hotel where he was staying.

In his court testimony, published by Sözcü, Ulu said he was in shock over the allegations and said the article was proof of successful journalism.

“If an organized and sneaky terrorist organization engages in an uprising, would they learn the location of the president from a journalist or a newspaper? The coup-plotters said they knew about the president’s whereabouts in their testimonies. Accepting such a charge means underestimating this terrorist organization,” Ulu told the court. 

Olgun, meanwhile, asked the court why an article regarding the president constitutes a crime. 

“If I was a member of an organization, why wasn’t I detained even though a year has passed since the coup attempt? If no opposition voices are wanted, then the daily should be shut down,” Olgun told the court. 

An arrest warrant for the daily’s owner Burak Akbay was also issued over “being a member of an armed terrorist organization,” but he remains abroad.  Akbay’s file contained testimonies that he was raised within Gülenists and a 2016 crossword puzzle that allegedly indicated the newspaper’s editorial stance served the movement.

Writing on Twitter, Bülent Tezcan, spokesman for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said the claims against the paper were “mud that would not stick.”

Another CHP lawmaker, Enis Berberoğlu, said the allegations that Sözcü would work with the Gülenists was “slanderous.”

“Journalism has been arrested,” CHP Istanbul lawmaker Barış Yarkadaş said.

May/28/2017

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