Prominent Hürriyet columnist Akyol complains about long pre-trial detentions

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Taha Akyol

Veteran Hürriyet columnist Taha Akyol, who has been lending support to the government’s narrative in the wake of a failed coup on July 15, wrote on Monday that pre-trial detentions are longer than usual, urging speedier trials, especially for journalists.

“I could understand the widespread detentions at first, but it was time to complete the indictments,” Akyol said and added that there aren’t even any allegations of armed terrorist attacks leveled against most of the imprisoned journalists, academics and businesspeople.

“Why are such people as Nazlı Ilıcak, Ali Bulaç. Mümtazer Türköne, Şahin Alpay, Ahmet Turan Alkan, Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan and Kadri Gürsel under arrest,” Akyol asked as he called for prompt due process.

Akyol gave examples from his imprisonment after the 1980 military coup and said that even back then, judges observed the basic principles of the rule of law.

Both Taha Akyol and his son, Mustafa Akyol, are influential pundits in Turkey. As a family, their pro-government stance has been subject to criticism in the face of unprecedented human rights violations in Turkey in the wake of a failed coup in July.

Despite his reputation as a “liberal” name in journalism, Mustafa Akyol has defended a massive post-coup purge on the grounds that “pre-emptive” action could be acceptable to prevent future crimes.

According to a report published on Jan. 26 by new advocacy group the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) 191 journalists are in jail, 92 are wanted and 839 have been charged in Turkey.

In the currently ongoing post-coup purge, over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10. As of Feb. 1, 89,775 people were being held without charge, with an additional 43,885 in pre-trial detention.

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