Detention warrants issued for Sözcü daily owner, 3 employees over Gülen links

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Gökmen Ulu

The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for the owner of leading opposition newspaper Sözcü as well as three of its employees over alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15.

Sözcü owner Burak Akbay and reporter Gökmen Ulu as well as executives Melda Olgun and Yonca Kaleli are accused of spreading propaganda on behalf of the Gülen movement.

A report in the Cumhuriyet daily said on Friday that the reason for the investigation into Sözcü was the publication of a report on July 15 that aimed at revealing the whereabouts of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was in the western holiday resort of Marmaris at the time.

Reporter Gökmen Ulu was detained in İzmir’s Karşıyaka district after his home was searched by police. Speaking to reporters, Ulu said he was taken into custody over a news report detailing where President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was vacationing before the coup attempt on July 15. Underlining that the holiday venues of political leaders are always newsworthy all over the world, Ulu said he also went to Erdoğan’s hotel during the coup attempt to cover his statement.

One of the lawyers for Sözcü, Celal Ülgen, told Cumhuriyet that the paper was informed about a search decision by the police but that no detentions have yet taken place. He said there were ongoing police searches at the houses of Akbay and Ulu as of Friday morning.

Journalist Uğur Dündar, who writes columns for Sözcü, criticized the operation against his newspaper from his Twitter account on Friday morning. He said if Sözcü is a supporter of the Gülen movement, then everyone in Turkey is a supporter of the movement.

In its front page story on Sept. 2, 2016, Sözcü announced that the government was preparing to silence the newspaper. It claimed that prosecutors were making preparations to press charges over Gülen links.

The Turkish government has already jailed more than 230 journalists and closed down over 150 media outlets in the aftermath of the coup attempt.

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