Turkey: Police detain Zaman chief editor in crackdown

Police have detained the editor-in-chief of Turkey’s Zaman daily

Baku. 14 December. REPORT.AZ/ Police detained the editor-in-chief of Turkey’s Zaman daily Sunday, bringing the total number of people in custody to 25 in an ongoing crackdown on local media figures and police officials in 13 provinces across Turkey.

All the people detained have been alleged to be linked with the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen and his so called Gulen movement.

Police took Ekrem Dumanli into custody from the Zaman's office in Istanbul.

Dumanli, who is a staunch critic of the government, dismissed all allegations against him and claimed his innocence in a speech at the daily's building before he was taken away by the police.

"We have no fear as we have no fault," the Zaman editor said in a speech, which was televised live.

His lawyer, Hasan Gunaydin, read out the charges against the editor, which included allegations of deprivation of liberty, forgery in official documents, forming a crime organization by force, menace and compulsion, informs Report citing Anadolu Agency.

Hundreds of people surrounded the Zaman building when Dumanli was being taken away. They strongly condemned the police operation and termed it an attempt to muzzle the free press in the country.

Former ruling AK Party deputies, Idris Bal, Hakan Sukur and former interior minister Idris Naim Sahin were among the daily’s supporters in the crowd.

Zaman daily is alleged to be close to the so-called Gulen movement.

Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor Hadi Salihoglu said it ordered the detention of 31 people on charges of forgery, fabricating evidence and forming an alleged crime syndicate to overtake the sovereignty of the state. Earlier, it was reported that the prosecutor’s office had given the order for 32 detentions, but Salihoglu revised down the figure to 31.

Hidayet Karaca, chairman of the Samanyolu Media Group, is another senior media figure who was detained earlier in the day.

Producer Salih Aslan and Director Engin Koc of a Samanyolu TV series were also taken into custody in Eskisehir province and sent to Istanbul, police said.

Makbule Cam Alemdag, scriptwriter of another TV series, that used to broadcast on Tek Turkiye or One Turkey, was also detained in Van province.

Turgay Balaban, a lawyer for Aslan and Koc, said the two were detained over allegations of framing other people through their TV show as part of an alleged Gulen movement operation in 2010 against a "radical" group. The leader of the group, Mehmet Dogan, served 17 months in jail and was said to be a foe of Gulen, Turkish media reports said.

According to the prosecutor’s office in Istanbul, former chief of Istanbul's anti-terrorism police department, Tufan Erguder, former Istanbul deputy chief of police, Mutlu Ekizoglu, and Erhan Ercikti, former public security chief of Istanbul police department, are also among the detainees.

Two police captains, one in eastern Erzurum province and the other in Batman province, and five other police officers in eastern Sanliurfa, Elazig, Tunceli, Mardin and central Kahramanmaras provinces were also been detained in the ongoing police operation.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to take to task the alleged Gulen movement group members on numerous occasions. The government has described the movement and its supporters as the "parallel state" since late 2013.

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