Following news stories that appeared in the Turkish media on Tuesday reporting on “evidence” of the Gülen movement affiliation of detained columnist Professor Mehmet Altan, his lawyers issued a statement discrediting the stories regarding both Mehmet Altan and his brother, author Ahmet Altan, who have been under detention since Sept. 10.
Turkish media ran stories suggesting that “evidence” such as one dollar bills, a Bank Asya credit card and recordings of sermons of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen was found in a search of Mehmet Altan’s house, considered adequate by the Turkish government for a person to be affiliated with terrorism and plotting a failed July 15 coup.
Both Mehmet Altan and Ahmet Altan are accused of sending “subliminal” messages regarding the July 15 coup attempt on a TV show a day before the putsch.
Mehmet Altan’s lawyers, Veysel Ok and Ergin Cinmen, stated that not only is the accusation irrational, but also the stories regarding the Altans are either distorted or fabricated. They argued that the information in their client’s case, which has not been released to them, his lawyers, is distributed to the Turkish media including the Sabah, Yeni Şafak, Yeni Akit, Aydınlık and Hürriyet dailies as well as the Anadolu news agency.
Since the foiled coup, the Turkish government has characterized the existence of F-series one dollar bills found in the houses of detainees as a “secret” messaging system among Gülen sympathizers. Mehmet Altan’s lawyers stated that the one dollar bills found in his house were among other bills from his foreign trips, but the news stories aimed to create the impression that they were kept separately in the house.
Similarly, any affiliation with Islamic lender Bank Asya, which was previously seized by the government, is portrayed as proof of links to “FETÖ, an acronym created by the government to label the Gülen movement as terrorist. Mehmet Altan had a credit card from Bank Asya among his other credit cards. His lawyers said he was given this card by Fatih University in order to withdraw his salary from the bank.
Mehmet Altan’s lawyers further stated that it is a complete lie to argue that Gülen’s sermons, which were completely legal in Turkey for decades until the failed coup of July 15, were found in the professor’s house. According to the lawyers, the prosecutors deliberately delivered such distorted stories to the media to damage Mehmet Altan’s reputation.
Despite their extended detention, the Altan brothers are still waiting to appear in court without any explanation for the delay to their lawyers.