Turkey issues detention warrants for 35 journalists as 107 remain jailed

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Zaman daily journalist Hanım Büşra Erdal

As part of an ongoing witch-hunt against the faith-based Gülen movement, detention warrants have been issued for another 35 journalists for their alleged links to the movement in Turkey, with the country already having a record number of 107 journalists behind bars.

According to reports in the Turkish media, police raided the houses of 35 journalists in Ankara, İstanbul and Kocaeli provinces in the morning hours of Tuesday and detained nine journalists.

The detained journalists include Hürriyet daily Internet Editor Dinçer Gökçe, Nurullah Öztürk, Rasih Yılmaz, Murat Aksoy, Abdullah Alparslan Akkuş, İskender Yunus Tiryaki, Levent Arap, Ömer Şahin and Ayhan Şimşek.

Eighteen of the journalists including Ergun Babahan, Osman Özsoy, Şemsettin Efe and Celil Sağır were reported to be abroad. Police continue to search for the eight remaining journalists at large who reportedly include journalist Yavuz Baydar.

According to news reports, the journalists are accused of promoting the Gülen movement in the media and in social media.

The P24 website says as many as 107 journalists are already behind bars in Turkey.

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has closed 131 media organizations, includes three news agencies, 16 TV stations, 23 radio stations, 45 papers, 15 magazines and 29 publishers since a failed military coup on July 15.

The government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched a war against the Gülen movement following the eruption of a corruption scandal in late 2013 in which senior government members were implicated and carried their continuing crackdown on the movement and its sympathizers to a new and controversial level after the failed coup attempt.

Although the movement strongly denies having any role in the corruption probe and the coup attempt, the government accuses it of having masterminded both despite the lack of any tangible evidence.

Since the coup attempt on July 15, some 82,000 people have been purged from state bodies, 40,000 detained and 20,000 arrested on the grounds that they had links to the movement. Arrestees included journalists, judges, prosecutors, police and military officers, academics, governors, businessmen and even a comedian.

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