Doğan Group’s Ankara representative Barbaros Muratoğlu arrested
ISTANBULDoğan Group Ankara Administrative Representative Barbaros Muratoglu was arrested late on Dec. 15 following his interrogation at the Istanbul 9th Criminal Court Peace over charges of “aiding the armed Fethullahist Terror Organization [FETÖ],” after being held in custody for 14 days.
Muratoğlu, who was taken to the courthouse in Istanbul’s Çağlayan early on Dec. 15, testified to the prosecutor for one hour.
He was questioned over people he had spoken to over the phone and he was also asked about 2012 meetings with a law firm that is said to be linked to FETÖ.
Muratoğlu said in his 22-page police testimony that he did not use the ByLock messaging app, widely used by FETÖ members, accused of being behind Turkey’s failed July 15 coup attempt.
Asked about a photograph of himself taken with Fetullah Gülen, the U.S.-based leader of FETÖ whose extradition is sought by Ankara, Muratoğlu said he participated in a U.S. trip with the representatives of daily Sabah, Akşam, Zaman, Posta, Milliyet and Yeni Asır and local journalists from the western Turkish city of İzmir in 2012.
“While the trip in the U.S. was ongoing, [the group] said they were going to Pennsylvania. I did not know about this trip beforehand, but we had to go as we were acting as a group. I did not have any conversations with Gülen on the trip,” he said.
“All the meetings I have had are due to business relations. I have no relationship with the FETÖ organization and I do not accept the charges,” he added.
‘Violation of law’
Köksal Bayraktar, one of Muratoğlu’s lawyers, said his client “is a person who talks on the phone with hundreds of people every day for business. It is not possible for him to know every person he talks to.
Marking the people who he has spoken to retrospectively and imputing him with these allegations is a violation of law. We are demanding that he be released, as there is no evidence that he is connected with the terrorist organization.”
No terror links known at that time
“My client has been working in the media sector for nearly 30 years. Ankara is one of the places where the bureaucracy is intense and my client has contacted related people for bureaucratic relations. It was not known at the time of contact that these individuals were members of a terrorist organization. It is out of the question that he has a relationship with the terrorist organization,” said lawyer Şehnaz Yüzer, demanding his client’s release.
Following his interrogation at the prosecutor’s office, Muratoğlu was sent to the Istanbul 9th Criminal Court Peace with a demand for arrest.
Judge: Standing alongside Gülen leads to strong suspicion
Muratoğlu’s interrogation at the Criminal Court of Peace began at around 9 p.m., and judge Mustafa Çakar announced his arrest at around 11 p.m.
“The suspect has expressed that he went to the U.S. in 2012 with the representatives of İzmir newspapers and they meet with Fethullah Gülen, the gang leader of the terrorist FETÖ in Pennsylvania. Photographs taken during this meeting are included in the case file and it can be seen that two of Muratoğlu’s jacket buttons are done up,” Çakar stated, referring to this as a sign of respect by many in Turkish culture.
“Despite the fact that the suspect mentioned repeatedly in his testimony that he was on a trip with a person named Deniz Sipahi, and they were not aware of this trip beforehand, it is seen that Deniz Siphali is on the left of [Gülen] and the suspect is on the right of him. The conclusion is therefore reached that the suspect is under strong suspicion in terms of the charged crime,” the decision read.
“The investigation is still ongoing and the evidence has not yet been fully collected. There is a possibility that the nature of the crime may change against the suspect, according to new evidence collected, and the charges may be aggravated. Both the amount of punishment foreseen in the law for the charged crime and the defense, behavior and the stance of the suspect, which were also reflected on the investigation reports and observed during the interrogation, gave the judges a strong suspicion that the suspect may escape,” it added.
Doğan legal advisor: Muratoğlu’s arrest is unfair
Doğan Holding Chief Legal Advisor Erem Turgut Yücel has described Barbaros Muratoğlu’s arrest as “unjust and unfair.”
“Muratoğu has been arrested on the grounds that he met for a short time with a legal consultancy firm in Ankara. People in this legal firm were later arrested on charges of being a member of FETÖ. As no such practice has been carried out for the other clients of these lawyers, who provided services for a number of institutions at that time, we find that Muratoğlu’s arrest on these grounds is extremely unjust and unfair,” Yücel stated.
“These meetings with the mentioned lawyers are considered justification for his arrest, but at that time he was continuing business with senior persons in the state and these meetings were business-related and he had no acquaintance with these lawyers,” he added.
“We understand that he was also arrested on the grounds that he was on a trip with a group – which also included representatives of the Sabah, Akşam and Yeni Asır newspapers - in 2012, which is long before the Dec. 17 and 25, 2013 milestone in Gülen links allegations,” Yücel said, referring to the corruption cases against senior government figures by Gülen-linked prosecutors. “The trip included a visit to Fethullah Gülen, upon a demand by the representatives of Sabah and Akşam, although this was not on the itinerary.”
“The arrest of our Ankara administrative representative is a great injustice because no investigation has been launched into the other journalists in that photo,” he added.