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Jailed journalist Türköne says he is hopeful Turkey will restore rule of law

Mümtazer Türköne

Journalist and political scientist Professor Mümtaz’er Türköne, who is among the dozens of journalists critical of the government arrested in the aftermath of a failed coup in Turkey, has said he is hopeful that Turkey will eventually restore the rule of law.

Türköne, who used to work for the now-closed Zaman daily, which was shut down by the government in the aftermath of the coup attempt due to its links to the Gülen movement, has been behind bars for three years, two months.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the failed coup on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Speaking to journalist Ruşen Çakır from the Medyascope news website through his lawyer, Türköne said: “I am hopeful about [the future] of my country. Due to the lack of supremacy of the law, Turkey first lost its social capital and environment of confidence. Now, it is losing its economic capital and future. … Sooner or later, Turkey will restore the rule of law; otherwise, this country will lose everything.”

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has been in power as a single-party government since 2002, is accused of destroying the rule of law in the country, while its leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is believed by many to have established one-man rule in the country.

Particularly after the coup attempt, the AKP has been criticized for waging war on its critics and non-loyalist citizens under the pretext of a coup attempt.

According to the journalist, even the AKP and the its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), have given up referring to the Gülen movement as “Fetö,” a term coined by Erdoğan to refer to the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization, and prefer to use the term “Feto,” which does not carry that connotation.

“’Feto’ does not make reference to a terrorist organization. Even those who previously used to aggressively say ‘Fetö’ now prefer to just say ‘Fethullahist structure.’ I think they see the near future,” said Türköne, implying that everyone will soon acknowledge that the Gülen movement, inspired by the views of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, has nothing to do with terrorism.

The journalist, who also talked about his recent hospitalization due to a heart problem, said he refused to have bypass surgery although doctors recommended that his coronary arteries be replaced.

Türköne said he refused the surgery due to the obstacles created by the gendarmerie and the prosecutor’s office as there is a need to get permission from them for many things during the post-op recovery. The journalist also said he knows how much difficulty those who had surgery while incarcerated had undergone in Silivri Prison, where he is jailed, so he did not want to experience the same problems.

“They just put in a stent. It is a temporary solution. What can I say? God is great. Being in jail is not only about being deprived of one’s freedom,” added Türköne.

A high criminal court in İstanbul in July 2018 handed down a prison sentence of 10 years, six months to Türköne along with several other journalists from Zaman on terrorism charges.

The journalist said the reason he is in jail is the critical articles he wrote for Zaman.

“I am behind bars because of engaging in journalism,” he added.

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