Turkish newspaper staff remanded in custody over coup attempt links: CNN Turk

FILE PHOTO: Police officers carry security barriers in front of the Zaman newspaper headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey March 6, 2016. REUTERS/ Osman Orsal

ANKARA (Reuters) – A Turkish court has remanded in custody for another two months 21 of the 30 journalists and newspaper executives from Turkish newspaper Zaman which was shut down after last year’s failed coup, broadcaster CNN Turk said on Tuesday.

The former employees of the Zaman newspaper are charged with “membership of an armed terror organization” and “attempting to overthrow” the government, parliament and the constitutional order through their links to cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Zaman was affiliated with Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric and former ally of President Tayyip Erdogan. Gulen is blamed by Ankara for instigating the failed July 2016 coup, but denies any involvement.

Zaman was first seized by the Turkish government in March 2016 before the coup attempt, and then closed down by a government decree.

The indictment calls for three consecutive life sentences for the Zaman staff on charges of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order, the Turkish parliament and the Turkish government, and says the newspaper exceeded the limits of press freedom and freedom of expression.

The 21 people remanded in custody had already been jailed for over a year pending trial. CNN Turk said the trial was postponed to Nov. 13.

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Ece Toksabay and Ken Ferris)

Turkey hunts more coup suspects, detains 30 for suspected PKK links

Turkey hunts more coup suspects, detains 30 for suspected PKK links

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish police have launched operations to track down 33 former staff of a national scientific research agency who are alleged to have been involved in last year’s failed coup attempt, the state-run Anadolu news agency said on Tuesday.

Anadolu said the suspects were alleged to have used ByLock, an encrypted messaging app which the government says was used by the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom it accuses of orchestrating the abortive putsch in July 2016.

Gulen has denied involvement in the coup attempt.

Anadolu said police carried out operations in six provinces to find the 33 suspects from Turkey’s scientific research council TUBITAK.

Since the coup attempt some 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from jobs in the civil service and private sector and more than 50,000 have been detained for alleged links to the putsch.

The crackdown has alarmed rights groups and some of Turkey’s Western allies, who fear the government is using the coup as a pretext to quash dissent.

Security sources also said 30 people suspected of being linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) were arrested on Tuesday in operations in the southeastern province of Sirnak.

The PKK, designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union, and United States, has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state, and the government has ramped up operations targeting the militants since the collapse of a ceasefire in 2015.

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

Turkey detains dozens of tech staff suspected of coup links: agency

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish authorities have ordered the arrest of 105 people working in information technology on suspicion of involvement in an attempted military coup a year ago, state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Tuesday.

Over the last year, there has been a large number of police operations targeting people suspected of links to the U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating the failed putsch on July 15.

In the latest operations focused on IT employees in both the private and public sectors, police have so far detained 52 people out of the 105 targeted by arrest warrants across eight provinces, including former staff from Turkey’s scientific research council TUBITAK and a telecommunications authority, Anadolu said.

It said the suspects were believed to be users of ByLock, an encrypted messaging app the government says was used by Gulen’s followers. Gulen has denied involvement in the attempted military takeover.

On Monday authorities issued arrest warrants for 72 university staff, including a former adviser to Turkey’s main opposition leader who staged a mass rally on Sunday to protest against a crackdown in the last year.

Last week police detained 10 people, including the local head of rights group Amnesty International at a meeting on an island near Istanbul. Their detentions were extended for another seven days on Tuesday, a source close to the matter said.

In total, about 50,000 people have been arrested and 150,000 state workers including teachers, judges and soldiers have been suspended under the emergency rule imposed in late July.

Rights groups and government critics say Turkey has been drifting toward authoritarianism for years, a process they say has accelerated since the coup bid and a referendum in April granting President Tayyip Erdogan sweeping new powers.

The government says the crackdown and constitutional changes are necessary to address security threats. More than 240 people were killed in last year’s coup attempt.

(Writing by Daren Butler and Ece Toksabay; Editing by Andrew Heavens and David Dolan)

Thousands rally in Turkey after opposition lawmaker jailed

Enis Berberoglu, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), arrives at the Justice Palace, the Caglayan courthouse, to attend a trial in Istanbul, Turkey March 1, 2017. Picture taken March 1, 2017. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

By Ece Toksabay and Gulsen Solaker

ANKARA (Reuters) – Several thousand people took to the streets of Turkey’s two biggest cities on Thursday to protest against a 25-year prison sentence handed down to an opposition lawmaker on spying charges.

A court sentenced Enis Berberoglu, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), on charges of military espionage on Wednesday. It alleged he gave an opposition newspaper a video purporting to show Turkey’s intelligence agency trucking weapons into Syria.

He is the first lawmaker from the secular CHP to be jailed in a government crackdown that followed last July’s failed coup. More than 50,000 people have been imprisoned and over 150,000 sacked or suspended from their jobs.

Carrying banners that read “Justice”, and waving Turkish flags, crowds demonstrated as CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu started a 425 kilometer (265 mile) march from the capital Ankara to the Istanbul jail where Berberoglu is being held.

Wearing a white shirt and waving at his supporters on the way, 68-year-old Kilicdaroglu embarked on a journey that party officials said could take at least 20 days.

Kilicdaroglu has called the arrest lawless and motivated by the presidential palace, a reference to President Tayyip Erdogan. “Our march will continue until there is justice in this country,” Kilicdaroglu told reporters before setting off.

Crowds gathered at a park in the capital to see him off and to protest Berberoglu’s imprisonment.

“Erdogan is waving his finger at everyone who is against him,” said Nuran, a retired teacher who declined to give her surname. “The arrest was made to send a message but we are not afraid. We will resist until they jail every single one of us.”

Nearby, many people held banners, waved Turkish flags and carried posters of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the secular founder of modern Turkey, and the CHP.

Police imposed tight security measures at the site of the protest, setting up security barriers, sealing off nearby roads and carrying out searches with bomb disposal teams and dogs. Water cannon and armored police vehicles waited nearby.


Eleven lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have been jailed over terrorism charges since last year, including the party’s two leaders, according to the HDP.

Berberoglu’s lawyer appealed against the lawmaker’s detention, seeking his immediate release. It was not immediately clear when the court would rule on that appeal.

He has been accused of supplying the Cumhuriyet newspaper with a video it used as the basis of a May 2015 report that alleged trucks owned by Turkey’s state intelligence service were found to contain weapons and ammunition headed for Syria when they were stopped and searched in southern Turkey in early 2014.

The government denied accusations that weapons were sent to Syrian rebels, saying the trucks were carrying humanitarian aid. Erdogan later acknowledged the trucks belonged to the state intelligence agency and said they were carrying aid to ethnic Turkmens battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Islamic State.

He accused Cumhuriyet’s editor-in-chief Can Dundar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul of undermining Turkey’s reputation and vowed Dundar would “pay a heavy price”.

Last year, Dundar and Gul were sentenced to at least five years in jail for revealing state secrets in a related case. The prosecutor is now seeking an additional 10 years in prison for the two over the report on the trucks.

Dundar is being tried in absentia after leaving the country. Gul remains in Turkey and free, but his case is in process.

Some 160 journalists are imprisoned in Turkey, according to the journalists union, and authorities have shut down 130 media outlets since the failed coup.

The government says such measures are necessary, given the vast security threats it is facing. Rights groups and some of Turkey’s Western allies have voiced concern at the scope of the crackdown, decrying what they say is growing authoritarianism.

(Writing by Daren Butler and Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by David Dolan and Ralph Boulton)

Turkey seeks detention of 189 lawyers in post-coup probe: media

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish authorities issued detention warrants for 189 lawyers as part of an investigation into followers of a Muslim cleric accused of orchestrating last July’s attempted coup, state-run Anadolu news agency said on Wednesday.

The scope of purges that have also seen more than 130 media outlets shut down and some 150 journalists jailed has unnerved rights groups and Western allies, who fear President Tayyip Erdogan is using the coup bid as a pretext to muzzle dissent.

The 189 suspects were sought by anti-terrorist police across eight provinces including Istanbul for alleged links to the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, the agency said. He has denied involvement in the failed putsch.

Police have so far detained 78 of the lawyers, some believed to be users of ByLock, an encrypted messaging app the government says was used by Gulen’s followers.

Since the July coup attempt, authorities have jailed pending trial 50,000 people and sacked or suspended 150,000, including soldiers, police, teachers and public servants, over alleged links with terrorist groups, including Gulen’s network.

Erdogan says the crackdown is necessary due to the gravity of the coup attempt in which 240 people were killed.

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Daren Butler and Ralph Boulton)

Turkish authorities briefly detain spokesman for pro-Kurdish opposition: lawmaker

FILE PHOTO: Osman Baydemir, spokesman for the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), addresses members of parliament from his party during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey April 18, 2017. Picture taken April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish authorities briefly detained the spokesman of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) for insulting police on Friday, a party lawmaker said, the latest detention of a high-profile politician from the pro-Kurdish opposition.

Osman Baydemir was released after a brief detention and testimony at the local prosecutor’s office, fellow lawmaker Meral Danis Bestas said.

Baydemir, 46, was elected to the Turkish parliament in 2014. In addition to representing the southeastern province of Sanliurfa, he also serves as the HDP’s national spokesman.

More than a dozen HDP lawmakers have been jailed, mostly due to alleged links with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency against Turkey for more than three decades. The HDP denies direct ties to the PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Turkey and the European Union.

The party’s co-leaders, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, have also been jailed, which handicapped its campaign against the April referendum to change the constitution and grant President Tayyip Erodgan sweeping new powers. Turks narrowly backed the constitutional change on April 16.

The HDP says as many as 5,000 of its members have been detained as part of a crackdown that followed last year’s failed coup, and which rights groups say targets dissent.

Prosecutors want Demirtas jailed for 142 years and Yuksekdag for up to 83 years on charges of terrorist group propaganda. Demirtas was sentenced in February for “insulting the Turkish people, the government and state institutions”.

A ceasefire between the Turkish state and the PKK broke down in July 2015 and the southeast subsequently saw some of the worst violence since the PKK launched its insurgency in 1984.

(Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Editing by David Dolan and Stephen Powell)