Turkey issues arrest warrants for 35 newsmen over alleged links to Gulen

  • The arrests came as the state of emergency imposed after botched coup remains still in place

ISTANBUL – Turkish authorities on Thursday issued arrest warrants for 35 employees of media groups on suspicion of links to Fethullah Gulen.

Another report by Anadolu news agency claimed that nine people have been detained so far adding that the suspects were accused of using a messaging app allegedly used by Gulen to mobilise followers in Turkey.

The Bylock messaging app has already led to the arrest of thousands of people in Turkey which the authorities say was used by Gulen supporterws to coordinate actions ahead of the coup last year.

The latest arrests raised eyebrows of journalists who advocate press freedom, that is narrowing with time under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in particular because of the state of emergency imposed in the wake of the failed July 2016 coup.

Gulen, an Islamic preacher who lives in the American state of Pennsylvania, denies any link to the botched coup that led to the killing of over 200 people.

Turkey coup: 241 killed, 1,440 injured amid revolt against President Erdogan

Those detained include a former columnist for the Turkiye daily, Ahmet Sagirli, and the current website editor at the leftist opposition Birgun daily, Burak Ekici.

According to the latest figures from the P24 press freedom website, there are 164 journalists behind bars in Turkey, most of whom were detained under the state of emergency.

In one of the highest profile cases, 17 staff from the Cumhuriyet daily, a publication criticising Erdogan — last month went on trial for aiding ‘terror’ groups.

While most of the suspects in that case have been released from pre-trial detention, four Cumhuriyet journalists, most of whom have been held for eight months, remain behind bars.