Turkish court orders arrest of four suspects in media operation

Turkish court orders arrest of four suspects in media operation

Turkish court orders arrest of four suspects in media operation An Istanbul court has ordered the arrest of four of the 12 suspects, including Samayolu TV’s head, who were detained in a Dec. 14 police operation on media groups linked to U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

Eight suspects, including Zaman Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı, have been released. The court, however, imposed a travel ban on Dumanlı.

The four people arrested by the court are Samanyolu Media Group head Hidayet Karaca; Tufan Ergüder, the former head of the Istanbul Police Department’s anti-terror branch and the former head of the Hakkari Police Department; Ertan Erçıktı, the head of Police Security Branch office; and Police Chief Mustafa Kılıçarslan.

Karaca was arrested on charges of founding a terrorist organization while the other three are charged with being a member of the organization, reports said.

TRT, the state run television station, has pulled back a story in which it claimed that an Istanbul court has issued an arrest warrant for Fethullah Gülen.

The interrogation of 12 suspects was completed by Istanbul 1st Criminal Court of Peace, with judge Bekir Altun saying the verdict would be announced at 2 p.m.

Four people were released by the court after the prosecutor asked for their probation.

Dumanlı, who became father to a daughter early Dec. 19, defiantly told hundreds of supporters outside Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse after his release that “the press cannot be silenced; the media will never succumb to intimidation.”

Turkish television said Karaca had been charged with “forming and running a terrorist organization.” The three former senior Istanbul police officers arrested were charged with “membership of a terrorist organization.”      

According to Zaman’s website, Karaca raised his hands after the decision was announced and said: “No need to be worried, God helps. Just as this is an arrest order for a fictional scenario, this is a fictional ruling. Those who made this decision will appear before the court one day.”

His arrest is believed to be linked to a popular drama series on STV, “Tek Turkiye” (One Turkey), which tells the story of a doctor who goes to work in the southeastern part of the country.

The European Union had condemned the arrests as running contrary to European values, but Erdoğan has struck back, telling the bloc to “mind its own business” in a row that risks badly damaging relations.

The arrests also amplified concerns about media freedoms in Turkey under Erdoğan, who in August moved from the post of prime minister to president. Dumanlı denounced the arrests as a “theater show” and said the authorities were seeking to cover up “their scandals, sins and corruption.”

“They detained us, but we told them that we are not afraid of being detained, being imprisoned or being hanged – for us, it is no different than attending a wedding ceremony,” Dumanlı said.