Shortly after the Turkish authorities issued a warrant for the arrest of 42 journalists on July 25 this year, an arrest of 47 more was ordered as part of a wider crackdown with the supporters of the Muslim cleric Fetullah Gulen, accused of being the one behind the failed coup, Reuters reported. “The punishments regard editors and columnists of the newspaper Zaman (which currently doesn’t exist), widely seen as the Gulen movement’s flagship media organisation” said an unnamed government official on Wednesday.
Critics of president Tayyip Erdogan stress that he’s using the failed coup attempt to stifle dissent and strengthen his authoritarian rule, Reuters writes.
Many of my friends are detained. Critically inclined media outlets have completely vanished, there is no room for the voice of criticism. Erdogan’s punishing and “witch hunt” knows no boundaries. Nazli Ilicak, Sahin Alpay and many other journalists have been detained. They are prominent journalists who have spent almost half a century in this profession.
To recall, in March this year the Turkish authorities took over control of the daily newspaper Zaman, a day after the court in Istanbul issued a decision that the Zaman group be put under surveillance. Namely, the Turkish authorities consider the Zaman group, which in addition to the daily newspaper Zaman also owns the newspaper in the English language, Today’s Zaman, and the Cihan news agency, to be close with Fetullah Gulen, Erdogan’s former ally who turned into his fiercest adversary after the corruption scandal at the end of 2013.
As Reuters states, as the reason for the arrests of former journalists of Zaman, Turkish officials assert a suspicion that the journalists are likely to have intimate knowledge of the Gulen network and as such it could benefit the investigation conducted by the government. However, what doesn’t go in support of that is the fact that many of the arrested journalists don’t share the stance of the Gulen religious organisation, which only confirms the suspicions that the failed coup attempt was used for a crackdown with dissenters.