Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ahmet Şık and Nedim Sener Caught Up in Ergenekon Press Raids

Journalist Ahmet Şık has been detained in the Ergenekon investigation. Most ironically, Şık helped to expose the Ergenekon group as well as past coups against the government. Colleagues say it is highly unlikely he had anything to do with Ergenekon. More likely: He was working on a book on links between the Gulen Movement and the Turkish police . . . playing with fire indeed.

From Hurriyet Daily News:
Turkish police Thursday targeted more journalists as part of a controversial probe into alleged coup plots, among them a prominent award-winning reporter, Anatolia news agency reported.

Police were searching the homes of 11 people in Istanbul and Ankara, following a similar raid targeting the media last month that sparked an outcry over press freedom in EU-hopeful Turkey and drew a U.S. rebuke, Agence France-Presse reported.

A prosecutor issued a detention order for the suspects, and journalist Ahmet Şık was detained after his home was searched for six hours, daily Hürriyet reported on its website. Nine others, mostly journalists, were also detained, The Associated Press reported.

Şık already faces prosecution for co-writing a critical book about the crackdown on the so-called Ergenekon network, broadcaster NTV reported.

Police had reportedly discovered a draft book by Şık that allegedly focuses on the religious groupings within the police force on the hard disk of one computer seized in last month's raid on Oda TV, several news websites said.

Also among the suspects was Nedim Şener, an investigative reporter for daily Milliyet and author who last year received the International Press Institute's "World Press Freedom Hero" award for a book that put blame on the security forces in the 2007 murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.
Şık (use Turkish letters when spelling!) and Sener have both been in-and-out of the news in recent years, and neither can be loved much by the government. Radikal journalist Şık's most recent investigation of links between the Turkish police and the Gulen movement, a most controversial subject in Turkey, has certainly not won the journalist any friends, and many have speculated in the Turkish media that this was the reason for his arrest.

The government has taken a lot of domestic and international heat for its treatment of the press, and many have long accused the government of using the Ergenekon investigation to silence its critics, including journalists.
The current situation is “ridiculous and tragic,” said journalist Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, noting that Ahmet Şık, one of the journalists whose homes were searched, had been instrumental in opening the Ergenekon case in the first place. The diaries in Şık’s “Coup Diaries” story for weekly Nokta in 2007, an article that led to the magazine being shut down, were among the key evidence that led to the investigation, Mavioğlu said.

It is a very “immoral accusation to place Ahmet Şık next to the ‘deep state’ and Ergenekon,” said Mavioğlu, a journalist with daily Radikal and co-author with Şık of a two-volume book about the Ergenekon case. Speaking to the Daily News while in front of Şık’s house as the search continued, he said he cannot compare the situation to anything but McCarthyism.
For more reaction against the arrests, including a strong denunciation by CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu and CHP deputy leader in charge of human rights (who I interviewed last summer), click here. For more on Sener and the trumped up charges he faced last year for leaking state secrets (that could be found in public documents), click here.

Shame, shame, the whole way round . . .

UPDATE I (3/4) -- The Turkish Journalists Association (TGD) has issued a statement in regard to the press raids (thanks to Bianet): 60 journalists are currently detained in prison; more than 2,000 journalists are being prosecuted. Investigations have been launched against 4,000 journalists. Death threats against journalists and trials carrying hundreds of years of imprisonment and are continuing.

. . . .

The government seems to remain a passive spectator of the threats against press freedom and journalists by giving the impression that they are not disturbed by the situation that the source of the threats is not being removed. Crimes of thought are on the rise again in this country with journalists being taken into custody, arrested and tried.

Head of the Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Commission Helene Flautre has made the following statement on the arrests: "The professional orientation and research carried out by the journalists do not give the impression that they are affiliated with nationalists and supporters of a coup like the Ergenekon organization, I think."

UPDATE II (3/5) -- The New York Times' Sebnem Arsu has the story here.

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