A person walks past a newspaper stand showing the front pages of Turkish newspapers on display, in Istanbul, March 13, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Turkish authorities have issued arrest warrants for the chief executive and several staff members of an opposition daily in Istanbul, as a crackdown continues in the wake an abortive military coup last year.
The CNN Turk broadcaster said on Friday that Istanbul prosecutors had issued detention warrants for Burak Akbay, the owner of the critical daily Sozcu, as well as three other members, including a correspondent, who were accused of links to US-based opposition figure Fethullah Gulen.
The Turkish government accuses Gulen of having been behind the July 2016 coup attempt, a charge he has denied.
“[The operation] is about the executives of daily Sozcu. He [Akbay] is already a fugitive and there is an arrest warrant for him. There are detentions and the investigation is ongoing,” Chief Public Prosecutor Irfan Fidan said in an interview with the Turkish Dogan News Agency, without giving details.
“Proceedings are only being conducted against its manager and some staff members,” he added.
Akbay, who the CNN Turk said was in London, later announced in a statement that he was “being targeted because I produce right and honest journalism.”
According to state-run Anadolu Agency, the four individuals were accused of “being a member of terror organization and committing crime on behalf of the organization,” “assault against the president,” and “armed insurgency against the Turkish government.”
The Turkish government says Gulen’s supporters, some of them embedded in government institutions, run a clandestine movement that Ankara describes as a terror organization.
Sozcu was the second daily to have been targeted in the government crackdown. Leading opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet earlier saw 20 staff members charged under a state of emergency imposed following the failed coup.
In a statement on its website, Sozcu said, “Let no one have any doubt, Sozcu will not be silent. It will continue to be the voice of this country’s conscience.”
This image, obtained from Dogan news agency, shows Turkish police officers escorting people after their arrest for alleged links with US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, in the central city of Kayseri, on April 26, 2017. (Via AFP)
Turkey witnessed a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, when a faction of the Turkish military declared that the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was no more in charge of the country.
A few hours later, however, the coup was suppressed. Almost 250 people were killed and nearly 2,200 others wounded in the abortive coup.
Since then, Ankara has been engaged in suppressing perceived putschists and sympathizers.
Over 40,000 people have been arrested and 120,000 others sacked or suspended from a wide range of professions, including soldiers, police, teachers, and public servants, over alleged links with the coup attempt.

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