Pro-gov’t media spread false reports linking Russian envoy’s murderer with Gülen movement

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Although the possible affiliations of police officer Mert Altıntaş, who assassinated the Russian ambassador to Ankara on Monday night, have not yet been determined, the pro-government media and the Turkish government’s troll army continue to disseminate false stories in an effort to link the gunman to the Gülen movement.

Only few hours after the murder, the staunchly pro-government Sabah daily wrote that the murderer stayed at the residence of journalist Abdullah Bozkurt, who was the Ankara bureau chief of the now-shut-down English-language daily Today’s Zaman. Bozkurt, who wrote for Turkishminute.com that foreign embassies in Turkey are not safe due to increasing anti-Western sentiment in the country, was forced to reveal his official address on Twitter to disprove the allegation.

Pro-government columnist Abdulkadir Selvi initially reported live on CNNTürk minutes after the assassination of the ambassador at an art gallery in Ankara that the murderer repeated slogans of radical Islamist terrorist organization the Al Nusra Front. Yet, the next day, in contrast to his initial reporting, Selvi argued that a Gülen movement “sleeper cell” was responsible for the attack.

Selvi further asserted that the police officer was a suspect in a plagiarism investigation from 2010 in which the Gülen movement was accused of stealing questions for the KPSS exam, a prerequisite for placement in the bureaucracy. However, the murderer, born in 1994, would not have been eligible to take that exam in 2010. All the suspects in this particular probe were either dismissed or jailed. Yet, journalist Ahmet Şık, a strong critic of the Gülen movement, tweeted that the police officer has never been the subject of any Gülen-linked investigation.

The troll army also claimed that the murderer attended a Gülen-affiliated prep school during his high school years. Although his mother, currently in detention, denied this claim, millions of other people attended those institutions, including  President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s daughters, son and sons-in-law.

CNNTürk as well as Sabah reported that the assailant received a scholarship from a donor who owns a Gülen-linked school in Kuşadası. It turned out that no such school has ever existed in Kuşadası.

Officer Altıntaş attended two Erdoğan rallies as part of a security detail in 2014 and 2015, while thousands of police officers have been investigated and purged starting from December 2013.

Despite any concrete information as to the possible ties of Altıntaş, Turkey told the US on Tuesday that the Gülen movement was behind the assassination of the Russian ambassador.

Meanwhile, the pro-government media had run headlines accusing the Gülen movement, backed by the CIA, of the assassination, that arguably aims to destroy the rapprochement between Turkey and Russia.

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