Following President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement that no country is safe for Gülen movement sympathizers, the pro-Justice and Development Party (AKP) media continue to target exiled journalists in the United States.
The Sabah daily, which is run by Serhat Albayrak, brother of Berat Albayrak, the son-in-law of President Erdoğan, ran a story on Tuesday about critical journalist Tuncay Opçin, who lives in the US, accompanied by secretly taken photos of Opçin in Sugar Land, Texas, in the Houston metropolitan area. Sabah claimed that Opçin was part of a failed coup attempt on July 15. Two arrest warrants have been issued for Opçin for alleged membership in a terrorist organization.
Responding to Sabah’s story through his Twitter account on Monday, Opçin claimed that the reporter who took the photos and video was accompanied by officials, hinting that they were National Intelligence Organization (MİT) members, working for Turkish diplomatic missions in the US.
Sabah published another story on Monday about Aydoğan Vatandaş, another exiled investigative journalist living in the US state of New Jersey, and published secretly taken photos and videos of him.
In another story run by the pro-Erdoğan daily Yeni Şafak on Monday, exiled journalists, including former Today’s Zaman Editor-in-Chief Bülent Keneş, were claimed to be living in Europe and engaged in efforts to create a multilingual news website with funds supplied by Germany and Austria. The daily also claimed that Gülen sympathizer journalists have been working on a TV channel in Germany.
The AKP government has speeded up a media crackdown since a July 15 foiled coup attempt. The government has closed down more than 130 media organizations and jailed in excess of 120 journalists.
Dozens of critical journalists have left Turkey due to the crackdown. The news stories came after President Erdoğan on Sept. 19 threatened followers of the faith-based Gülen movement living all over the world, saying that no country is safe for them.“ No country, no region anywhere in the world, is a safe haven for FETÖ [an acronym the government has been using to refer to the Gülen movement] and militants,” said Erdoğan during a press conference at İstanbul Atatürk Airport, before flying to New York for the UN General Assembly. In August, the pro-government media threatened critical journalists with extrajudicial killings.
During a program on Kanal 24, Ersoy Dede and Hikmet Genc were discussing how to get rid of critical journalists living in exile by bringing to mind the ASALA case. Dede said that “in this country, I witnessed how ASALA was finished [off]. One morning we will wake up and see some scum being caught at Sabiha Gokcen Airport. The media will cover the story like this: “Tuncay Opcin, Emre Uslu and Ekrem Dumanli …” Turkey’s MİT has been tasked with locating, arresting and even killing military officers who fled Turkey after allegedly taking part in the failed coup attempt in July, according to a story in the Vatan daily on Aug. 30.