Media crackdown, not political: Arinc

Arinc says the operation against the 'parallel state' is not a political move but part of a natural judicial process

Arinc says the operation against the 'parallel state' is not a political move but part of a natural judicial process

ANKARA - Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc has said the recent operation in Istanbul against the "parallel state" was not a political move but part of a judicial process that followed a complaint filed against the Gulen movement in 2011.

His remarks came after Sunday's police crackdown on senior media figures and police officers in 13 cities across Turkey, which saw more 29 people taken into custody. Seven have since been released.

"It is not about the executive power but about the judiciary. The use of security forces is not political but a matter of the judicial process," he told the press at the Prime Ministry Office following Monday's Council of Ministers' meeting in capital Ankara.

The prosecutor's office ordered Sunday the detention of 31 people on charges of forgery, fabricating evidence and forming an alleged crime syndicate to harm the sovereignty of the Turkish state.

Among those arrested are Turkey’s Zaman daily editor-in-chief Ekrem Dumanli; Hidayet Karaca, chairman of the Samanyolu Media Group, as well as producer Salih Aslan and director Engin Koc of Samanyolu TV, and Makbule Cam Alemdag, a scriptwriter of a TV series for the network.

All the detainees were alleged to be linked to the U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gulen and his so-called Gulen movement. 

Arinc stressed that the prosecutor's office and the Turkish national police had acted following a complaint by Mehmet Nuri Turan, founder of a publishing house named "Tahsiye." The publisher revealed earlier Monday that it was his complaint letter that led to the police detention of more than 20 senior local media figures and police officials.

Arinc maintained that the police forces had fulfilled their duty as they were ordered by the prosecutors and the judges, respectively conducting the investigation and considering it.

"No political influence is included in the process. It was not launched upon an order of a Cabinet minister," he added.

The deputy prime minister also dismissed any breach of the freedom of the press, saying no member of a profession in Turkey was privileged to commit a crime.

"It can be the mentality of fifth-world countries to allow members of a certain occupation to commit crimes. No one in the state of law of Turkey can tolerate this," he noted.

"We hope the investigation will be conducted in a just and fair manner and the innocent ones will be freed from the matter, so as to return to their lives among the Turkish people, as citizens without any discredit to their names," Arinc said.

In December 2013, an anti-graft probe targeted several high-profile figures, including the sons of three former government ministers and leading Turkish businessmen.

The government denounced the December probe as a "dirty plot" constructed by the "parallel structure," an alleged group of bureaucrats embedded in the country's institutions, including the judiciary and the police.

Since then, hundreds of police officers have been detained on charges of eavesdropping on Turkey's top officials, disclosing highly-sensitive information, forming an organization to commit crimes and being a member of this organization, violating privacy, illegally seizing personal information and forgery of official documents.

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