Many journalists who are either open or covert supporters of the Turkish government were outraged by a court decision on Friday for the release of 21 journalists from jail and called for their re-arrest, in a development that many say caused the journalists to be arrested again and put back into prison.
The İstanbul 25th High Criminal Court had ruled for the release of 21 out of 26 journalists who were accused of membership in the faith-based Gülen movement, which has been designated as a terror organization by the Turkish government and accused of orchestrating a failed coup last summer.
The 21 journalists were not released because either a prosecutor objected to the release of some of them or a new investigation was launched into others.
The moment after the court’s decision was announced for the release of the 21 journalists, pro-government journalists and figures launched a campaign on social media, fervently demanding their re-arrest.
The campaign was led by journalist Cem Küçük, a staunch supporter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In a series of messages from his Twitter account on Friday, he wrote: “If those traitors are not jailed again, some will pay a very heavy price. I say this knowingly. Things will go crazy. … [Justice Minister] Bekir Bozdağ should immediately convene the HSYK [the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors] and take action against some judges. This is the demand of the nation. Every prosecutor and the judge who decides to release known FETÖ supporters will be expelled from their profession. This is the absolute decision of the state.”
FETÖ is a term coined by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to refer to Gülen movement as a terrorist organization despite lack of any court decision to this effect.
Pro-government journalist Ersoy Dede also wrote similar messages from his Twitter account on Friday protesting the court decision for the release of the 21 journalists.
“If there is still a board called the HSYK, an urgent decision should be made for all the judges who made the release decision. Make nonsense arrest decisions, create unnecessary victimizations, release real FETÖ supporters. Wake up, guys. This is an operation,” wrote Dede.
Hürriyet reporter İsmail Saymaz also criticized the court decision for the release of the journalists from his Twitter account, saying: “Ekrem Dumanlı [former Zaman daily CEO] is at large, [journalist] Faruk Mercan is missing, Büşra Erdal is released. In this country, being a supporter of Fethullah [Gülen] is attributed to just Ahmet Şık and Cumhuriyet staff.”
Saymaz was referring to the arrest of Cumhuriyet journalists including Şık over alleged ties to the Gülen movement.
The development has led to huge disappointment among families of the journalists who waited for long hours in front of prisons in İstanbul to be reunited with their loved ones.