Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, which was managed by a former advisor of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on Sunday targeted exiled Zaman media group reporters over social media messages critical of a Turkish operation in Syria’s Kurdish-controlled Afrin region.
Abdullah Bozkurt, Bülent Keneş, Emre Uslu, Tuncay Opçin and İhsan Yılmaz, journalists from the former Zaman media group, and Serdar Yeşilyur, the Brussels representative of the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON), were accused by the news agency of siding with the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) because of their critical messages on social media.
In the report written by Anadolu’s Brussels reporter Hasan Esen, the messages of the journalists were presented as evidence of the Gülen movement’s cooperation with Kurdish militant groups.
The Zaman media group was seized by the Turkish government on March 4, 2016 and closed following a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Dozens of journalists who worked for the group were jailed following the coup attempt, while dozens are living in exile.
In an undated video of a live TV program shared last month on social media, journalists Cem Küçük and Fuat Uğur, staunch supporters of President Erdoğan, called on the Turkish intelligence service to assassinate former Zaman daily Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı and columnists Emre Uslu, Abdullah Bozkurt and İhsan Yılmaz: “Blow the brains out of three or five of them. Look how frightened they’ll be,” he said.
Aydın Ünal, a former speechwriter of President Erdoğan and current Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy, warned Turkish journalists in exile of extrajudicial killings in a column published on Dec. 4 in the pro-Erdoğan Yeni Şafak daily.
The AKP deputy listed the names of journalists to be targeted: Ekrem Dumanlı, Adem Yavuz Arslan, Celil Sağır, Bülent Keneş, Abdülhamit Bilici, Erhan Başyurt, Emre Uslu, Akın İpek and Can Dündar.