Court Refuses to Free Scribes: And more from the Turkish Press

November 26, 2011

( An Istanbul court refused to release arrested journalists Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener, as well as 12 other suspects, in the first hearing of an alleged coup plot case Monday.

Fourteen suspects, including journalists Şık, Şener and Soner Yalçın, the owner of the dissident online news portal Oda TV, are accused of ties to Ergenekon, an alleged ultranationalist gang accused of plotting to overthrow the government. The 14 appeared before Istanbul’s 16th High Criminal Court on their 265th day of arrest, prompting anger from colleagues and representatives from local and international journalistic organizations at the slow pace of the legal process.

Philippe Leruth from the European Federation of Journalists, or EFJ, highlighted the importance of support during a protest in front of the courthouse.

“Everybody has to understand that if there are concerns about press freedom, it means democracy is in danger,” he said. “I hope this will make [the government] think more about this case, especially during a time when many ‘Arab Spring’ countries are taking Turkey as a model for democracy.”

Ümit Gürtuna, the spokesman of the Platform of Freedom for Journalists, said there were nearly 10,000 cases in Turkey involving journalists and that the number of arrested journalists had now reached 76. Gürtuna also said Turkey was at the top of the list in terms of the number of journalists that have been arrested.

“This is a shame for a country that is trying to improve its democracy,” he said.

Suspect Kaşif Kozinoğlu, a former intelligence operative, was scheduled to appear in court Monday as well, but he died of a heart attack Nov. 12 in prison.

The court decided to postpone the trial until Dec. 26.

During the trial, the defense lawyers also demanded that the judges be recused from the case; a higher court is expected to rule on the demand some time next week.

A row broke out between members of the press and security guards in front of the hearing room at Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse just prior to the beginning of the trial.

Due to the intense attention the case has attracted, the trial was held in the larger hall of the First Court of Serious Crimes. A quota of three persons was allocated to the families and acquaintances of the suspects, 20 for the Turkish press and 10 for the international press. Despite the quotas, however, many local journalists were turned away from the trial room as members of the international press were given priority for entry into the courtroom.

There was a separate row between the security guards themselves as the guards standing in front of the hearing room argued with security personnel in charge of registering the names of journalists during the morning.

The Ergenekon investigations have divided the Turkish population. To some they represent the “cleansing of the century”.[21] To its detractors the Ergenekon investigation is politically motivated; the alleged organization itself a deliberate fabrication by government sympathizers.[21] Criticism grew stronger after the arrest of journalists in February and March 2011.[75] Even the biggest fans of the government worry that the legitimacy of the Ergenekon case is being dented by heavy-handed tactics such as the arrests of Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener.[76] The real goal of the Ergenekon investigation was not to go after the deep state but to intimidate and silence opponents of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), particularly critics of the vast network of Gülen’s supporters known as the Gülen Movement.[10]
Ergenekon (organization) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


Turkish Media State – A MONOPOLY

November 14, 2010

how does a obviously false portrayal of the Mavi Marmara incident get made into a film?

Deep ignorance: Most Turks know nothing about what really happened on the “Mavi Marmara” 

So far, yet close: The exiled Fethullah Gülen 
When Western journalists note in a casual aside that press freedom has experienced certain setbacks under the AKP, they are failing to do justice to the severity of this calamity and its ramifications for Turkey and the region. The calamity is exacerbated by the tendency of the foreign media to repeat, without scrutiny, the very idiocies peddled in the Turkish press, where the range of opinion on offer has become severely limited. The result is the growth of a grossly distorted and dangerous consensus about Turkey, here and abroad — to wit, that Turkey under the AKP has become more democratic and politically healthier, even if it is a bit up the duff with Islamism.
When the AKP took power, four large private groups owned almost all the country’s media-a concentration of power already far too dense for political health. The largest was the Dogan group, which controlled some 70 per cent of the nation’s print and broadcast outlets. The group enjoyed warm relations with the AKP until 2007. Then its outlets began reporting details of the Deniz Feneri scandal, the biggest charity corruption case in German history. Billions of dollars raised by this Islamist charity, Dogan newspapers announced, had found their way into AKP coffers. Soon thereafter, the Turkish Ministry of Finance began investigating the group, then levied upon it the largest tax fine ever assessed on a Turkish company. The company is appealing, but if the appeal fails, it will be annihilated. 
Then there is Sabah, the second-biggest media conglomerate, which controls the largest-circulation daily in Turkey and the powerful ATV television channel. Facing bankruptcy in 2007, it went up for sale. Curiously, all but one bidder dropped out at the last minute. The bidder left standing was the Calik group, whose CEO is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law, Berat Albayrak. A Qatari company, Al-Wasaeel, mysteriously swam up from nowhere to partner Calik’s bid — in defiance of Turkish law, which forbids the foreign financing of the media — and two state banks led by figures close to the AKP, Halk and Vakif, lent Calik $750 million to finance the transaction, even though private banks in Turkey and abroad had declined. 
Associates of the sect leader Fethullah Gülen, who has been exiled in the US since 1998, control many of these media outlets. No one is quite sure what the reclusive Gülen’s agenda really is, but there is no doubt that before the AKP came to power, he was prosecuted here for trying to establish an Islamic state. Nor is there any doubt that he is close to, and supportive of, the AKP. When Gülen is mentioned in the Western press, usually in passing, almost never is the most important fact about him noted: many Turks fear he’s their Ayatollah Khomeini. I do not know if they are right. But I don’t know that they’re wrong, either, and the people here who tell me his influence is a major cause for concern have proved right about many things. Outside a handful of academic publications, Gülen’s name is rarely mentioned in the Western media, and when it is, he is usually described — as the New York Times recently put it — as a “provincial Turkish preacher” who organises inspiring summer camps.
The AKP has by this means brought under its influence most of the media in Turkey, and what it hasn’t purchased or neutered, it has terrified. Since taking office in 2003, Erdogan has launched an energetic series of lawsuits against Turkish journalists and cartoonists for character defamation. No one knows how many have been sued, though the number is probably in the hundreds, and Erdogan has refused to answer this question when asked in parliament. 
Then there is the hydra-headed Ergenekon case. Ergenekon, supposedly, is an ultra-nationalist terrorist gang that schemed to foment unrest in Turkey by blowing up mosques full of supplicants, shooting down Greek fighter planes and assassinating the Turkish Nobel laureate for literature Orhan Pamuk. The unrest unleashed by this, according to prosecutors, was to be used as a pretext to topple the AKP. A sprawling investigation into this alleged network of shadowy coup-plotters has resulted in the arrest of many prominent journalists critical of the AKP, including the Ankara bureau chief of Cumhuriyet, who is still rotting in jail. Last year, in protest, the front page of Cumhuriyet was left blank but for the words: “If we go silent, who will speak?” I don’t recall seeing this reported anywhere in the international press. If it was, I will assume charitably, David Cameron merely overlooked it. Surely he would not deliberately have ignored it. That would have been cynical.
The government, meanwhile, has been locking down larger and larger portions of the internet: more than 1,000 websites have been banned, among them YouTube. Most of these bans have been initiated by the judiciary, not the executive, but the AKP has done nothing to change the laws the judiciary is enforcing.
So what’s left? Chiefly such newspapers as Zaman and Yeni Safak — the AKP’s unofficial mouthpiece — which are staunchly Islamist and connected to or controlled by the AKP or the Gülen media empire. Now, cronyism and government influence over the media is nothing new in Turkey; it would be completely misleading to suggest otherwise. What’s new, and disturbing, is the agenda this media consolidation is now serving and the eagerness of foreign journalists to swallow it whole and promote it.


June 4, 2010


Paul L. Williams, Ph.D.

A Roman Catholic bishop has been stabbed to death in southern Turkey. The incident marked the latest in a string of attacks on Christians since the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma, AKP) gained control of the government in 2002.

The AKP was formed and remains under the control of Fethullah Gulen, who has been called “the most dangerous Islamist on planet earth.”  Gulen, who has amassed more than $25 billion in financial assets, resides within a 45 acre fortress in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania.

Roman Catholics also have had their property confiscated by the government. Many of the churches have been transformed into mosques.

Christians in Turkey now constitute less than one half of one percent of the country’s population. 99% of the population are now Muslim – – 75% Sunni and 24% Shiite.

Less than a century ago, Christians dominated the intellectual and commercial life of the Levant, comprising more than a fifth of the population.

Under the AKP, Turkey has transformed from a secular state into an Islamic country with 85,000 active mosques – – one for every 350- citizens – – the highest number per capita in the world, 90,000 imams, more imams than teachers and physicians – – and thousands of state-run Islamic schools.

Abdullah Gul, Turkey’s first Islamist President, is a Gulen disciple along with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Yusuf Ziya Ozcan, the head of Turkey’s Council of Higher Education.

Despite the rhetoric of European Union accession, Turkey has transferred its alliance from Europe and the United States to Russia and Iran. It has moved toward friendship with Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria and created a pervasive anti-Christian, anti-Jewish, and anti-America animus throughout the populace.

the “Flotilla” is the tip of the iceberg