by Andrew Arnett
GAZIANTEP (Dec 14, 2014)—The Turkish government on December 14 conducted sweeping raids across the country, arresting 27, with warrants issued for 31 journalists, editors, TV producers, and police who were suspected of being supporters of a political foe of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
It is a major move against the supporters of cleric Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based moderate Islamic cleric who has been a vocal critic of the Turkish President.
The Turkish government has accused Gulen of running a parallel state from the United States, where he currently resides, and on December 12, Erdogan warned that “Whoever is beside them and behind them, we will bring down this network and bring it to account.”
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), denounced the action as a “coup,” and that “we cannot accept under any circumstances”.
Those arrested include Ekrem Dumanli, the editor-in-chief of the Turkish daily newspaper Zaman.
The U.S. State Department issued the following statement on the arrests of journalists in Turkey:
We are closely following reports that Turkish police have conducted a series of raids and arrests at locations across Turkey today. It appears that media outlets that have been openly critical of the current Turkish government are among the targets of these actions by Turkish law enforcement. Media freedom, due process, and judicial independence are key elements in every healthy democracy and are enshrined in the Turkish constitution. As Turkey’s friend and ally, we urge the Turkish authorities to ensure their actions do not violate these core values and Turkey’s own democratic foundations.
The European Commision has issued the following statement:
The police raids and arrests of a number of journalists and media representatives in Turkey today are incompatible with the freedom of media, which is a core principle of democracy. We expect that the principle of presumption of innocence will prevail and recall the inalienable right for an independent and transparent investigation in case of any alleged wrongdoing, with full respect of the rights of the defendants.