Turkey orders arrest of dozens of suspected 'Gulen-linked' journalists

Turkey orders arrest of dozens of suspected 'Gulen-linked' journalists
Turkey issued arrest warrants for former staff of Zaman newspaper due to their suspected ties with US-based cleric Fathullah Gulen, who the government accuses of orchestrating July's attempted military coup.
2 min read
27 July, 2016
Zaman daily's offices were raided by Turkish police in March [AFP]
Turkey ordered the arrest of dozens of former staff at a Turkish newspaper known for staunchly opposing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, local media reported.

Authorities seek to detain 47 former executives and senior journalists of Zaman newspaper over alleged association with US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen who Turkey blames for the coup attempt aimed at ousting Erdogan.

The warrants were for "executive and some staff including columnist" of the paper, an official who declined to be named told AFP.

"Police have already detained five of the journalists on the list today," the Committee to Protect Journalists said, listing the names of all 42 journalists, adding that the charges made against the journalists remain unknown.

Former Zaman columnist Sahin Alpay was arrested at his home early on Wednesday, state-run Anadolu reported.

The daily had only recently taken a strong pro-government position after its offices were raided by police in March and its administration changed into state-appointed individuals leading to the dismissal of a number of its journalists.

A court in Istanbul had appointed trustees over Feza Media Group, which includes Zaman, after the newspaper was accused of supporting the activities of "terrorist" organisations.

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Turkish authorities have led a crackdown on media groups critical of Erdogan's administration prior to the failed coup earlier this month.

The attempted putsch however had paved way for authorities to undergo a mass purge outside of due process amid a declared state of emergency, warned rights group.

"The state of emergency... is an unvarnished move for an arbitrary, mass, and permanent purge of the civil service, prosecutors, and judges, and to close down private institutions and associations without evidence, justification, or due process," Human Rights Watch said.

Earlier this week, Turkey issued arrest warrants for 42 journalists, 16 of which had been detained for questioning.

Since the bloody coup, which killed about 290 people, more than 13,000 individuals have been detained, including military personnel and judges.

Tens of thousands of other state employees accused of having links to Gulen were suspended from their jobs in sectors including education, health care, city government and even Turkish airlines.

Gulen, who lives in the US and runs a global network of schools and foundations, denied any knowledge of the coup attempt.