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AKP MP condemns state news agency for implying he has terrorist links

Selami Altınok (Okan Ozer / Anadolu Agency)

A lawmaker from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has criticized the state-run Anadolu news agency for releasing a document bearing his signature with a headline implying that it was issued by members of “FETÖ,” a derogatory term coined by the Turkish government to refer to the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization.

Anadolu on Thursday released a photo of a protection order issued for notorious Turkish crime boss Sedat Peker, who has been shaking Turkey for the past month with allegations about shady relations between the mafia and state actors, stating that the document bore  “traces of FETÖ.”

The photo released by Anadolu showed that the document was signed by several government officials, including then-İstanbul police chief and current AKP lawmaker Selami Altınok.

“Government officials have been unfairly exposed and accused [of terrorist links] in news reports regarding  a protection order issued for a figure who has recently been occupying the country’s agenda and in a document released with a headline saying ‘traces of FETÖ found’ in the document,” Altınok said in a written statement on Friday.

“Our nation witnessed the struggle [against the Gülen movement] of those of us who signed the protection order, in December 2013 as well as July 2016. Hints, allegations and slander to the contrary amount to a violation of rights and put great responsibility on those who voice them,” he added.

Altınok was referring to the Dec. 17-25, 2013 corruption investigations implicating President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his family and inner circle and an abortive putsch that claimed the lives of 251 civilians on July 15, 2016.

Erdoğan accused the faith-based Gülen movement – inspired by Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen – of both incidents, dismissing the corruption probes as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government and claiming years later that the movement orchestrated the attempted coup targeting his government.

Although the group, designated as a terrorist organization by the government, strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity, 301,932 people have been detained and 96,000 have been jailed due to alleged Gülen links since the failed coup, according to official figures, after Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on non-loyalist citizens under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.

Following Altınok’s statement, Anadolu deleted the tweet in which it shared the relevant news report along with the photo of the document. Later, the agency again posted a photo of the document but without the signatures.

Feyzi İşbaşaran, a former AKP MP who is now critical of the government, argued in a tweet on Friday that Altınok should reveal who ordered him, as the then-İstanbul police chief, to issue a protection order for Peker, instead of condemning Anadolu for showing his signature on the document.

Peker, the head of one of Turkey’s most powerful mafia groups who was once a staunch supporter of Erdoğan, has been making shocking revelations about state-mafia relations, drug trafficking and murders implicating state officials since early May.

One of Peker’s claims was that Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, who has been the mobster’s main target primarily because he ordered a police raid on his house in April and because he called Peker “a dirty mafia leader” in a tweet, approved police protection for him in 2015.

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