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Iran Press TV

Turkey arrests nine more journalists over alleged links to Gulen

Iran Press TV

Thu Aug 17, 2017 2:15PM

Turkey has arrested nine more journalists over their alleged links to the movement of US-based opposition figure Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for having masterminded a failed military coup last year.

Turkish authorities on August 10 issued detention warrants for 35 journalists and media workers accused of using the Bylock, an encrypted messaging application for communication.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency said the detention warrants had been aimed at what the Turkish government calls the media branch of the US-based cleric's network and that the suspects had been accused of "membership of an armed terrorist organization."

Eleven journalists were detained at the time and an Istanbul court placed nine under arrest late on Wednesday ahead of trial while two were released under judicial supervision, Anadolu said on Thursday.

Among the nine detainees were Burak Ekici, a journalist working for the Turkish opposition Birgun newspaper, and Yasir Kaya, the former news editor of the TV channel of Turkish football side Fenerbahce.

A prominent former columnist for the Turkiye daily, Ahmet Sagirli, was among those released.

According to Anadolu, searches are still underway for the remaining 24 suspects, who are likely to have fled abroad.

Turkey witnessed a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, when a faction of the Turkish military declared that the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was no more in charge of the country.

However, over the course of some two days, the putsch was suppressed. Almost 250 people were killed and nearly 2,200 others wounded in the abortive coup.

A group of rogue soldiers had also reportedly planned to assassinate Erdogan.

Gulen has denied the charges of having masterminded the coup.

The latest arrests of journalists come amid increasing alarm over press freedom in Turkey under Erdogan, in particular under the state of emergency imposed in the wake of the failed coup and which still remains in place.

Last month, 17 staff from the opposition daily Cumhuriyet went on trial for allegedly supporting Gulen's movement. Most of the detainees in that case have been released from pre-trial detention while four journalists of the newspaper remain behind bars.

In a post-coup crackdown, Turkish authorities have shut some 150 media outlets and jailed around 160 journalists.

In addition to the media crackdown, Turkey has also suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, policemen, teachers, and civil servants and has arrested nearly 50,000 others.

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