Arrest of Ankara representative Muratoğlu unjust, unlawful: Doğan Group legal consultancy
ISTANBULThe Istanbul 9th Criminal Court Peace arrested late on Dec. 16 Doğan Group Ankara Administrative Representative Barbaros Muratoğlu, who was detained from his house in Ankara early on Dec. 1. Below is a statement by the legal consultancy department of Doğan Group regarding its thoughts and assessments.
“Turkey’s Akşam newspaper leveled severe accusations against Muratoğlu on Nov. 24. In this accusatory report, a photo showing Muratoğlu with the terrorist head along with a group of journalists was published. The Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office launched a probe based on this news story. The main reasons for the accusation of aiding a terrorist organization in the probe and his arrest are as follows:
- Visiting the FETÖ ringleader, taking photographs with him and doing up two buttons on his jacket.
- Making intensive phone calls with some lawyers and civil servants.
All of these allegations are problematic in terms of both the law and conscience. Namely:
1- Barbaros Muratoğlu went to Texas with a group dominated by journalists from İzmir, which included representatives of Akşam, Sabah, Yeni Asır, Zaman, Posta and Hürriyet newspapers. According to the testimony of the organizer of the tour, Pennsylvania, where Fethullah Gülen, whose extradition is now being sought by Turkey for leading the July 15 coup attempt, was visited during this trip as a result of a fait accompli by the representatives of the Yeni Asır, Akşam and Sabah newspapers. Since visiting Pennsylvania at that time was extremely ordinary, many individuals from all walks of life, from politicians to businessmen, made similar visits. A short archival search of the internet will reveal countless photographs like this in Pennsylvania, where other personalities can be seen. The group photo that also included Muratoğlu is not a recent one, as Akşam newspaper claims, but dates back to 2012. The İzmir representative of Akşam newspaper is also present in the photo. At the same time, the fact that Muratoğlu’s jacket was done up was due to manners.
2- The Doğan Group has worked with more than 100 lawyers in various cities across Turkey and continues to do so. It is a common practice to obtain legal counseling from outside in fields that require expertise in addition to the lawyers of the holding company in order to defend the legal rights of our companies. It is quite natural that Muratoğlu met with some lawyers who are named in both the police and prosecutors’ inquiries. Counseling services from the lawyers in question started in the middle of 2012 and ended in 2014. Contacting lawyers in Ankara who have been mentioned in investigations was part of Muratoğlu’s legitimate activities as the Ankara representative of the holding. Such activities absolutely do not amount to abetting crime or adopting the ideology of the organization.
3- Moreover, the police officers and civil servants mentioned in the interrogation are public officials who possessed official titles at that time. Contacting these officials regarding various issues concerning the holding’s companies does not entail that Muratoğlu was in unity of thought or action with them.
4- At no time in his life has Muratoğlu used the ByLock application, which today points to membership in the organization. This claim is slander by the Akşam newspaper. In addition, within the scope of the probe, there are no claims over bank accounts, other payments or donations to particular institutions that could have been construed as sending money to the organization.
5- We absolutely believe Muratoğlu is innocent. The reasons for his arrest are unjust and unlawful. The arrest decision will be appealed within the time limit. We believe that justice will be served sooner or later.”