A journalist close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and her husband have filed a criminal complaint against 33 people, including opposition politicians and journalists, on allegations that include “membership in a terrorist organization,” local media reported on Friday.
Journalist Hilal Kaplan and her husband Süheyb Öğüt are known for running a troll group named Pelikan that had forced then-prime minister and current leader of the opposition Gelecek (Future) Party Ahmet Davutoğlu to resign in May 2016 with a list of unattributed files they published in April 2016. The files detailed issues of conflict between Davutoğlu and Erdoğan and harshly criticized Davutoğlu for refusing to push Erdoğan’s political agenda.
According to Turkish media reports, Kaplan, a columnist for the government-controlled Sabah daily and Daily Sabah newspapers and a board member of Turkish state broadcaster TRT, and Öğüt will be represented by lawmakers Selman Öğüt and Hadi Dündar.
The couple accuses 33 people of “membership in a terrorist organization,” “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization,” “insult,” “slander,” “fabricating a crime” and other offenses revealed by the prosecutor’s office.
Former Justice and Development Party (AKP) İstanbul Provincial Chair Selim Temurçi, the Turkish Workers’ Party (TİP) İstanbul lawmaker Ahmet Şık, lawyer Fidel Okan and the Eurasia Public Research Center (AKAM)’s owner Kemal Özkiraz, along with journalists İsmail Saymaz, Bülent Korucu, Tarık Toros, Said Sefa, Emre Uslu, Adem Yavuz Arslan, Barış Terkoğlu and Barış Pehlivan are among those facing the accusations.
AKAM’s Özkiraz reacted to the case filed against them in a series of tweets, saying: “It doesn’t bother me at all that Hilal Kaplan and Süheyb Öğüt call me a member of an [terrorist] organization. They have called many people many things, destroying their lives. If they hadn’t called people like us [dissidents] such things, I would think there was something wrong with me. I would feel ashamed and doubt myself.”
Hilal Kaplan ile Süheyb Öğüt'ün bana örgüt üyesi demesi hiç zoruma gitmiyor.
Kimlere ne demediler ki, nice mazlumların hayatını söndürdüler.
Bizim gibi yazıp çizenlere demeseler kendimde bir eksiklik ararım.
Utanırım, şüpheye düşerim.
— Kemal ÖZKİRAZ (@avrasyaanket) June 3, 2022
Through a referendum in April 2017 Turkey switched from a parliamentary system of governance to an executive presidential system that granted Erdoğan and his AKP government sweeping powers and was criticized for removing constitutional checks and balances, thus leading to a further weakening of Turkish democracy.
Erdoğan and the AKP brand all their critics as terrorists. Many politicians, including former co-chairs of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, are currently behind bars, along with dozens of journalists.