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Iran Press TV

Turkey tries over two dozen journalists over alleged links to Gulen

Iran Press TV

Mon Sep 18, 2017 01:49PM

Turkish authorities have put on trial 31 former employees of the now shuttered Zaman daily and its English-language sister publication Today's Zaman over their alleged affiliation to a movement led by US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Ankara government accuses of having masterminded the failed July 2016 coup attempt.

On Sunday, the Istanbul 13th Heavy Penal Court tried writers and executives from the two newspapers on charges of seeking to overthrow the Turkish government, membership in an armed terror group and attempts to either dissolve the Turkish Grand National Assembly or prevent it from performing its duties.

Twenty-two suspects in the case are being held in detention, with the remainder free under judicial supervision or on the run.

Among those being held in jail are Mümtazer Türköne, who is a prominent Turkish academic and a former columnist for the Zaman, and the writer Sahin Alpay.

The Turkish government seized the Zaman daily and Today's Zaman in March 2016, and shut them down in July that year.

The report comes as there are reportedly 171 journalists behind bars in Turkey over suspected links to Gulen's movement.

During the July 15 botched putsch last year, a faction of the Turkish military declared that it had seized control of the country and the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was no more in charge. The attempt was, however, suppressed a few hours later.

Ankara has since accused Gulen of having orchestrated the coup. The opposition figure is also accused of being behind a long-running campaign to topple the government via infiltrating the country's institutions, particularly the army, police and the Judiciary.

Additionally, the Ankara government has outlawed his movement, and has branded it as the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).

Gulen has denounced the "despicable putsch" and reiterated that he had no role in it.

"Accusations against me related to the coup attempt are baseless and politically motivated slanders," he said.

The 76-year-old cleric has also called on Ankara to end its "witch hunt" of his followers, a move he said is aimed at "weeding out anyone it deems disloyal to President Erdogan and his regime."

Turkish officials have frequently called on their US counterparts to extradite Gulen, but their demands have not been taken heed of.

Turkey, which remains in a state of emergency since the coup, has been engaged in suppressing the media and opposition groups suspected to have played a role in the failed coup.

Tens of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of having links to Gulen and the failed coup. More than 110,000 others, including military staff, civil servants and journalists have been sacked or suspended from work over the same accusations.

The international community and rights groups have been highly critical of the Turkish president over the massive dismissals and the crackdown.

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