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Why is Turkey arresting “journalists”?

Mustafa Gok is a habitual offender and a hardened criminal. He is reportedly a member of DHKP-C, Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front, an outlawed terrorist organisation responsible for political assassinations.

According to the Turkish Ministry of Justice, Mustafa Gok has a string of offenses dating back to the 1990s. He was charged and convicted for carrying a false identification card; for attempting to rob Eyup Rami Bank; for murdering Commissioners B.U. and M.U in Kucukkoy; for bombing Kartal Tekel’s supply depot; for bombing Pending Anavatan Party building; for kidnapping D.Y. from his home; for injuring Commissioners and Police officers in two separate occasions, on 23/03/1992 and 05/04/1992; for bombing a bus and injuring police officer A.S; on another occasion for targeting a police bus and exploding a bomb with the intention of murdering those inside.

Mustafa Gok also happens to be the Ankara correspondent for the Marxist-Leninist magazine Ekmek ve Adalet.

When human rights organisations and the mainstream media criticise Turkey for suppressing press freedom they recognise terrorists like Mustafa Gok as “journalists”. [*]

Mustafa Gok isn’t a special case, nor is he an exception amongst a list of “journalists” who have been detained by Turkey for charges relating to terrorism or other serious offenses.

Mazlum Dolan is another such case, a reporter at Dicle News Agency (DIHA), he was caught with explosive devices in Diyarbakir and charged with preparing, transporting and planting these devices. Despite these serious offenses he is described as a “jailed reporter” on many news websites, including the website of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Journalism is not a crime, this is one of those universal truths that no civilised country denies, including Turkey.

Admittedly though the list of jailed Turkish “journalists” is long, but these “journalists” were not arrested for having a critical voice or for “reporting the news” about Turkey, as is often falsely described in the Western media; as I shall demonstrate in this article, the vast majority of those arrested are linked to various terrorist organisations, including DHKP-C, FETO, PKK, ISIS and MLKP.

Turkish government’s “crackdown on journalism” or its “heavy-handed treatment of journalists” isn’t about suppressing the truth or the public’s right to know, it isn’t about attacking press freedom or freedom of expression; it is about national security, it is about protecting the Turkish public and countering terrorism.

While this may sound cliché and present little of value to some, especially to those who are not aware of Turkey’s politics and complex history, we must remember that Turkey was put through a tremendous trial in 2016 when the Gulenist terrorist organisation (FETO) attempted a military coup, which resulted in the deaths of 251 Turkish citizens and injuries to around 3000.

Gulenist groups infiltrated the upper echelons of the Turkish state and influential spheres of civil and social life, including the media. They were on a mission to topple the Turkish government in pursuit of their own agenda.


“Gulen’s leaked speeches about infiltrating state institutions and overthrowing the government”

“Richard Moore, The UK Ambassador to Turkey says the UK knows very well that the Gulenists were behind the military coup”

“UK MP Sir Edward Garnier was paid by Gülen tens of thousands of pounds to write a negative report about Turkey then promoted its agenda during a Commons debate”  [source]

In 2015, the Turkish government cracked down on these groups after it came to understand the extent of this organisation’s infiltration and pernicious practices. The Gulenists slowly started losing political and social influence in Turkey but despite this, they were still able to organise and execute a sophisticated military coup that almost succeeded.

Given this fact, anybody who argues that Turkey is overstepping its obligations and detaining “journalists arbitrarily” is categorically wrong. The deaths of 251 Turkish citizens during the 2016 military coup attempt should serve as a constant reminder about what can happen if these terrorist organisations go unchecked.

Turkey is within its full right under international law and human rights standards to actively protect its sovereignty and its people from terrorism and terrorism related activities.

“Press Freedom” in Turkey

Under the guise of journalism and press freedom the Turkish government has come under unremitting and defamatory attacks.

In 2014, Cumhuriyet’s editor-in-chief Can Dundar released footage of police officers opening crates of weapons in the back of a truck, which was bound for Syria. Can Dundar and his newspaper alleged that these weapons were being sent to ISIS by the Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT) and just like that “Turkey was supporting ISIS” in the eyes of the world. What an incredibly defamatory campaign this turned out to be.

Can Dundar false ISIS accusations

 

Turkey was the first country to declare ISIS a terrorist organisation, it listed this group as such on October 10, 2013. Turkey actively fought and defeated ISIS on many fronts in Syria, including Jarablus and Al-Bab. It was subjected to suicide bombings by ISIS on several occasions, yet because of the defamatory statements and articles like those published by Can Dundar, Turkey soon became known as a country supporting terrorist organisations in Syria.

Later it was revealed that Gulenists tipped off Can Dundar about the trucks that were shipping weapons to Syria. Those police officers which stopped the trucks were also Gulenists. Davutoglu, the Prime Minister at the time revealed that the weapons were being shipped to Turkmens, who had come under attack by hostile forces in Syria.

Imagine just for a moment that a reputable newspaper like New York Times publishing articles about the US government shipping arms to Al-Qaeda and sending mercenaries to assist terrorist organisations. This is exactly what happened in this case. What would the US government have done? What would any country do when the editor-in-chief of a major newspaper publishes inflammatory lies about its own government? Accept it and look the other way under the rights afforded to journalists by freedom of the press? No, the US and every other country subjected to similar mendacious propaganda would take lawful action.

The true story about Can Dundar and the so-called attempt by the Turkish government to silence dissenting voices looks vastly different when such an analogy is presented, doesn’t it?

What is worse is that Can Dundar was given asylum by Germany and welcomed with open arms by many countries around the world. Shamelessly, he is still given a platform where he continues to unjustifiably attack the Turkish government.

Despite the arrest warrant issued by Turkey for Can Dundar, his newspaper Cumhuriyet, which is a well-known oppositionist newspaper is free to operate in Turkey and it continues to print critical articles about the government; this is press freedom in action.

It is also worth noting that individuals whose opinions about Turkey are sought by the mainstream media and academia are fully supportive of Can Dundar under the guise of defending “press freedom”. Steven A Cook, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, even went as far as equating Can Dundar’s case with that of Jamal Khashoggi’s!

Steven A Cook supporting Can Dundar

Steven A Cook supporting Can Dundar

 

Press freedom does not entitle a “journalist” to make defamatory and false statements that potentially put at risk state security and the lives of many.

It is difficult for Turkey to defend against the deluge of propaganda found in the Western media when even these so called “experts” called-on to speak about Turkey present a  biased point of view; they are not ignorant and they understand what is going on but they choose to present Turkey in a negative light, for reasons only known to them.

Here is Howard Eissenstat from St. Lawrence University commenting about Can Dundar’s case:

“The case is one of many in which journalists have been targeted by the government for reporting the news.

Can Dündar and Erdem Gül should be immediately released.  The war on journalists must end.”

[source]

 

 

Arrested Journalists

Below is a list of individuals who are often presented as journalists when criticising Turkey and its so-called crackdown on press freedom.

Next to these names are the publications that they are associated with and the actual crimes they are charged with. Reviewing the reasons for arresting these individuals, it’s not difficult to see that they’re on trial for heinous crimes and not for their journalistic acumen.

There are a number of other “journalists” who have been arrested on charges linking them to the Gulenist terrorist organisation. I will continue to add new names to this list as information comes to hand.

 

Name Associated Publication Reason for arrest
Erdal Susem Editor of Eylul Hapishane Magazine ·      For murdering an individual with a police officer’s gun

·      For firing upon police officers

·      For being a leading member of the TK/PML TIKKO terrorist organisation

Erol Zavar Editor in chief of Odak Magazine  

·      Participating in a kidnapping organised by the terrorist organisation THKP/C

·      Assuming the identity of a police officer and carrying an unlicensed firearm

·      Being a member of an armed terrorist organisation and seeking to overthrow the government

 

 

Mehmet Yesiltepe Devrimci Hareket Magazine employee ·      Being a high-ranking member of the terrorist organisation THKP/C Devrimci Yol

·      Using firearms to attack police officers during an election protest

·      Robbing a bank

·      Encouraging organisation members to cause civil unrest

Kenan Karavil Production lead for Radyo Dunya ·      Being a member of an armed terrorist organisation

·      Participating in terrorist activities organised by the terrorist organisation PKK in Cukurova

·      Using false identification

·      Collecting money for a terrorist organisation

Ihsan Sinmis Azadiya Welat Newspaper reporter ·      Being a member of an armed terrorist organisation

·      Aiding and abetting two PKK Kongra-Gel operatives

Behdin Tunc Dicle Haber Ajansi (DIHA) reporter ·      Aiding and abetting a PKK operative
Faysal Tunc Dicle Haber Ajansi (DIHA) reporter ·      Aiding and abetting a PKK operative
Seyithan Akyuz Azadiya Welat Newspaper Adana representative ·      Supporting and calling out supportive statements in public for the PKK head terrorist Abdullah Ocalan

·      Providing intelligence for PKK media organisations

Mehmet Karaaslan Dicle Haber Ajansi (DIHA) Mersin Representative ·      Supporting and calling out supportive statements in public for the PKK head terrorist Abdullah Ocalan

·      Providing intelligence for PKK media organisations

Ali Bulus Dicle Haber Ajansi (DIHA) Mersin Representative ·      Supporting and calling out supportive statements in public for the PKK head terrorist Abdullah Ocalan

·      Providing intelligence for PKK media organisations

Deniz Kilic Azadiya Welat Newspaper Batman Representative ·      Aiding and abetting the terrorist organisation PKK.

·      Collecting signatures of support for the PKK and the PKK head terrorist Abdullah Ocalan

Rohat Ekmekci Gun TV/Radio announcer ·      Engaging in PKK propaganda and working as an announcer during organised events

·      Reading out PKK head terrorist Abdullah Ocalan’s manifesto and armed terrorist organisation propaganda material

·      Standing in respect and asking others to stand in respect for dead terrorists

Dilek Keskin Atilim Newspaper Istanbul correspondent ·      Participating in activities organised by the terrorist organisation MLKP

·      Being in possession of outlawed terrorist propaganda material

·      Financially supporting a terrorist organisation

Baris Acikel Devrim Yolunda Isci Newspaper reporter ·      Engaging in TKP-ML TIKKO terrorist organisation propaganda

·      Targeting and intending to harm state officials who have worked against terrorist organisations

Ali Konar Azadiya Welat Newspaper Elazig representative ·      Being a member of YDGM, a youth terrorist organisation copying its brother terrorist organisation PKK/KONGRA-GEL

·      Working as a prison guard for the PKK terrorist organisation

·      Participating in outlawed events organised by a terrorist organisation

Dilsah Ercan Yorum Newspaper and Yeni Ozgur Halk Magazine representative ·      Distributing outlawed PKK terrorist propaganda material such as Ozgur Halk Magazine

·      Participating in outlawed events organised by a terrorist organisation

·      Clashing with state security; engaging in assault, throwing incendiary devices like  Molotov cocktails

Miktat Algul Mersin Mezitli FM and Ulus Newspaper representative ·      Forming an outlawed organisation with the intention of committing crimes

·      Engaging in kidnappings to assist an outlawed organisation

·      Building state violations

·      Threatening and violating the rights of civilians

·      Extortion

Sedat Senoglu Atilim Newspaper representative ·      Being in possession of dangerous and explosive materials

·      Being in possession of unlicensed firearms

·      Engaging in fraud

·      Attempting to overthrow the constitutional order

Hamdiye Ciftci Dicle Haber Ajansi (DIHA) Hakkari correspondent ·      Participating in outlawed events by KCK/TM, a branch of PKK/KONGRA-GEL terrorist organisation

·      In possession of a notebook with handwritten notes about a terrorist organisations activities and events

·      Participating in meetings organised by a terrorist organisation

Ahmet Birsin Gun TV General Manager ·      Participating in events and activities organised by KCK, a branch of the terrorist organisation PKK

·      Participating in terrorist organisation events, including attending the funeral procession of dead terrorists

·      Utilising terrorist organisation funds to support terrorist organisation media events

·      Being in possession of outlawed terrorist material

Nuri Yesil Azadiya Welat Newspaper representative ·      Participating in the activities of PKK Kongra-Gel, a terrorist organisation

·      Being a lead member of the Tunceli youth group terrorist organisation

·      Participating in ransacking of a civilian’s house

·      Attending outlawed meetings and events of terrorist organisations

Emine Altinkaya DIHA Haber Ajansi representative ·      Participating in annual celebrations of the PKK terrorist organisation and speaking in support of this terrorist organisation

·      Being in possession of explosive materials

·      Being in possession of documents relating to terrorism

Ensar Tunca Azadiya Welat employee ·      Attempting to collect magazines belonging to terrorist organisations from a cargo ship

·      Being in possession of notes taken during terrorist organisation meetings

·      Attending terrorist organisation meetings and participating in their events

Hasan Cosar Atilim Newspaper representative ·      Being a leading member of MLKP at Ic Anadolu

·      Attending meetings and protests organised by a terrorist organisation and participating in their events

·      Being in possession of a large volume of terrorist propaganda material including CDs and organisational documents

·      Being in possession of accounting documents for a terrorist organisation

Ahmet Akyol DIHA Adana correspondent ·      Recruiting members to join the PKK terrorist organisation in Northern Iraq

·      Participating in events and protests organised by DYGM, which is an underground branch of PKK KONGRA-GEL at Cukurova University

·      Protesting in support of a terrorist organisation

Berna Yilmaz Yuruyus Magazine distributor ·      Being a member of DHKP-C armed terrorist organisation

·      Participating in outlawed events and protests organised by a terrorist organisation

Vedat Kursun Azadiya Welat Newspaper Editor ·      Participating in outlawed events and activities by a terrorist organisation

·      Providing a media platform for the PKK terrorist organisation

Ozan Kilinc Azadiya Welat Newspaper representative ·      Publishing PKK propaganda and supporting a terrorist organisation

·      Providing a media platform for the PKK head-terrorist Abdullah Ocalan

Bedri Adanir Aram Media and Advertising ·      Publishing terrorist propaganda
Ali Cat Daily Yerel Newspaper distributor ·      Being a member of an armed terrorist organisation, namely the PKK

·      Threating civilians

Sinan Aygul Taraf Newspaper and Dicle Haber Ajansi (DIHA) reporter ·      Being a member of an armed terrorist organisation, namely the PKK
Erdogan Altan DIHA Batman correspondent ·      Being a member of an armed terrorist organisation, namely the PKK
Kadri Kaya DIHA Diyarbakir representative ·      Being a member of an armed terrorist organisation, namely the PKK
Mehmet Karabas Batman Postasi Newspaper editor ·      Being a member of an armed terrorist organisation, namely the PKK
Cihan Gun Yuruyus Magazine and Ozan Yayincilik representative ·      Being a member of an armed terrorist organisation, namely DHKP-C
Halit Gudenoglu Public Sector Pensioners Magazine owner ·      Being a member of an armed terrorist organisation, namely DHKP-C
Kaan Unsal Yuruyus Magazine representative ·      Being a member of an armed terrorist organisation, namely DHKP-C
Musa Kurt Public Sector Pensioners Magazine editor ·      Being a member of an armed terrorist organisation, namely DHKP-C
Naciye Yavuz Yuruyus Magazine reporter ·      Being a member of an armed terrorist organisation, namely DHKP-C
Mustafa Gok Emek ve Adalet Magazine Ankara representative ·      Being a member of an armed terrorist organisation, namely THKP-C
Hidir Gurz Halkin Gunlugu Newspaper Editor in chief ·      Being a member of an armed terrorist organisation, namely MKP
Hatice Duman Freedom and Socialism Newspaper owner and editor in chief ·      Being a member of an armed terrorist organisation, namely MLKP

·      Attempting to overthrow the constitutional order

Fusun Erdogan Ozgur Radio Production coordinator ·      Being a member of an armed terrorist organisation, namely MLKP
Osman Baha Okar Knowledge and Future Magazine editor ·      Being a member of an armed terrorist organisation, namely Devrimci Karargah Orgutu (DKO)
Hakan Soytemiz RED Magazine columnist ·      Being a member of an armed terrorist organisation, namely TDP

·      Aiding and abetting outlawed organisation members

·      Fraud

 

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About the author

Fatih Ismailoğlu

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