Al-Qaeda/Tahşiye and eclipse of reason

As details about the Dec. 14 media operation targeting Samanyolu Broadcasting Group and the Zaman daily emerge, it becomes apparent how it lacks any legal basis. The operation takes as a starting point a public sermon that venerable Fethullah Gülen gave in April 2009. It is claimed that some references have been made to it afterward in a TV series aired on STV, that reports and columns appeared in the Zaman daily upon instruction, and finally police chiefs launched an arbitrary operation.

In other words, there is an effort to corroborate the libel that activities are carried out outside state mechanisms within a “parallel structure.”

These allegations crumble under scrutiny in any case.

1- The allegation that everything began with Mr. Gülen’s sermon is a flat-out lie.

The National Intelligence Organization (MİT) has monitored the Tahşiye group since 2004. In late 2008, it informed the police that the group was planning “assassinations.” It was the MİT that named the al-Qaeda linked group, led by Mehmet Doğan, as “Tahşiye.”

And the Police Intelligence Bureau referred the file to the Anti-Terrorism Unit (TEM) with an official document dated Dec. 3, 2008.

In short, the al-Qaeda/Tahşiye process had started five years before Mr. Gülen’s sermon in 2009.

2- Contrary to the allegations, it turned out that the al-Qaeda/Tahşiye operation had been conducted within the state hierarchy in accordance with laws.

Starting with MİT’s written notification in 2008, the operation process was conducted upon the signed order of then Chief of National Police Department Oğuz Kaan Köksal.

Law enforcement agencies began to work on the case upon prosecutorial order numbered 2009/1016. A judge issued search, detention and arrest warrants before the operation. After that, theprosecutor wrote the bill of indictment and the judge issued arrest warrants for some suspects. Again, detainees’ objection to arrest was rejected by the judges of a superior court.

The media was neither involved in any stages of all these processes nor could it be held responsible for the decisions of judges and prosecutors.

As for the policemen arrested during the Dec. 14 operation, theyare accused of acting in accordance with the instructions of the Chief of National Police Department and prosecutor’s office.

If there is any crime here, shouldn’t the current Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Mr. Köksal, who gave a signed order back then, be included among the “suspects” within this investigation?

3- The claim that columnists had written pieces upon instruction and the related part had been added to the script of the TV series on order also fell apart.

Journalists denied the allegations and were eventually released.

The episode of the TV series aired on STV, which is a subject of the investigation, was broadcast in 2009. But Hidayet Karaca, General Manager of Samanyolu Broadcasting Group, is accused on the basis of an illegal wiretap recording made in 2013.

Justification of the prosecutor who tries to use the illegal wiretap recording as evidence is shocking: “The wiretapped conversations were not denied.”

Even if they were not denied, an illegal wiretap recording cannot be evidence. It is a crime to use and broadcast them.

The prosecutor not only ignores all these but also disregards the statements made at the time by lawyers of Mr. Gülen and Mr. Karaca, denying the allegations and pointing to “manipulation and montage.”

Even if the wiretap recording is legal, how can it be presented as evidence for the script of a TV series that was shot 5 years ago?

4- The script of a TV series and a fictional text are mistaken for real life.

Criminalizing scripts that are composed through imagination andbear no relation to reality is no different from believing that Superman, Batman and Spider-Man actually exist.

Besides, with this point of view you cannot talk about media freedom and freedom of communication, in addition to freedom of arts in Turkey.

Otherwise, we would witness unbelievable scenes such as the detention every week of executives of TV stations airing TV series like Kurtlar Vadisi, which fictionalizes current events.

“House of Cards”, one of the most-watched TV series in the US, becomes much of a reality in Turkey but turning it into a film under these circumstances would mean risking life imprisonment.

5- The prosecutor who detained Ekrem Dumanlı, editor-in-chief of the Zaman daily, for a news report and pieces by twocolumnists and who called 80-year-old Ahmet Şahin to give testimony, left Vatan and Hürriyet dailies out of the investigationthough they had covered the same sermon.

After criticism mounted, the prosecutor’s office called Ertuğrul Özkök, who had written about Mr. Gülen’s warnings at the time, to give testimony as “witness” unlike the above mentioned columnists.

However, Zaman, BUGÜN, Hürriyet dailies and STV had not been mentioned in the indictment on al-Qaeda/Tahşiye group. Instead, there were references to two news videos broadcast by CNN Türk and Haber Türk and used as evidence against the suspects.

In other words, if there had been a plot hatched via media as alleged, executives of these two TV stations should also have been declared “suspects” and detained.

And one of those who have broadcast these news videos is Yiğit Bulut, an advisor to President Erdoğan.

6- While the decision about members of the media and Mr. Gülen, who was added to the indictment later, admits to the absence of coercion, violence and even a single weapon, all of them are charged with “setting up a terrorist organization” and “being a member of such an organization.”

Just as there is no chronology, cause and effect relationship, or a logical pattern, there is no effort to present evidence, either.

Furthermore, Mr. Gülen, STV, and columnists are charged with “plotting” because they gave warnings about an al-Qaeda linked group and pointed out to potential terrorist actions that would disturb the peace.

However, al-Qaeda/Tahşiye trial still continues. It is seen that the Tahşiye group’s leader, who does not refrain from expressing sympathy for Osama bin Laden even today, had supported both Bin Laden’s call for jihad and armed struggle.

In addition to guns and explosives, the indictment on the group also contains wiretap recordings of people who wanted to join the ranks of al-Qaeda.

On the other hand, those calling the al-Qaeda linked Tahşiye as “innocent” accuse Mr. Gülen of “terror”, who has previously said, “A Muslim cannot be a terrorist and a terrorist cannot be a Muslim… One of the people in the world I hate the most is Osama bin Laden, because he spoiled the bright appearance of Islam.”

Indeed, this is a total eclipse of reason.

After all, the al-Qaeda/Tahşiye process proceeds within the state hierarchy in accordance with laws.

Since news reports and columns had appeared also in Vatan, Hürriyet, CNN Türk and Haber Türk, in addition to STV, Zaman and BUGÜN, launching an operation only against STV and Zaman “with fanfare” may indicate an ulterior motive and intention.

Meddling with law in this way just to be able to involve the Hizmet movement in “terror” and create perception means damaging rule of law, impartiality and independence of law, and foundations of the state. It strengthens the claim that the Dec. 14 operation is meant to silence free media before the anniversary of Dec. 17 probe.

The Dec. 14 coup, which ruined Turkey’s international credibility and reliability, which lacks a legal basis and which arbitrarily destroys the freedom of the press – a fundamental tenet of democracy – should be immediately ended.

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