Amid an ongoing purge, Turkish authorities today issued 42 warrants to detain* journalists with alleged links to the U.S.-based cleric the government accuses of orchestrating the failed July 15 coup.
The AP reported that authorities had detained five of the journalists and that another 31 academics had been taken into custody.
Initial reports suggested that one of those detained was 72-year-old journalist Nazlı Ilıcak, a prominent critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Another journalist targeted for arrest is Bülent Mumay, recipient of the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)’s 2013 Human Rights Award.
The International Press Institute (IPI) expressed alarm at the development.
“Given recent developments, we fear that this is only the first wave of arrests targeting journalists in a crackdown that increasingly resembles a witch hunt,” IPI Director of Advocacy and Communications Steven M. Ellis said. “We urge Turkey’s international partners not to turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses being carried out in the name of upholding democracy. To do so invites a degree of authoritarianism and impunity that will only destabilise the region even further.”
Erdoğan has blamed followers of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen for the coup attempt. However, Gülen himself has denied involvement and the government has released little evidence to back that claim. Meanwhile, Erdoğan and his cabinet have initiated a wide-ranging purge extending beyond the military to target judges, prosecutors, police officers, academics, teachers and now journalists.
International observers have faulted Turkish authorities not only for the scope of the purge, but the brutality with which it is sometimes being carried out. In a statement issued yesterday, Amnesty International said it had “gathered credible evidence that detainees in Turkey are being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, in official and unofficial detention centres in the country”.
Last week, Parliament approved a three-month state of emergency giving Erdoğan and his cabinet sweeping powers to rule by decree.
The full list of journalists targeted by today’s arrest warrants, as reported by Turkey’s Anadolu news agency, includes:
-Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu
-Hanım Büşra Erdal
-Muhammed Fatih Uğur
-Mustafa Erkan Acar
-Ufuk Emin Köroğlu
*This statement was revised on Aug. 1, 2016 to note that the warrants authorised the detention of individuals. In Turkey, a formal “arrest” is a separate, subsequent action.