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March 08, 2011, Tuesday

Ergenekon’s 18th wave debate

In the wake of the 18th wave of the investigation into Ergenekon -- a shadowy crime network with alleged links within the state suspected of plotting to topple the government -- which led to the arrest of journalists, including Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık, some circles continue to connect the development to the government.

They say the arrest of journalists places freedom of the press at risk in Turkey; however, the chief prosecutor conducting the case made a statement over the weekend saying that legal action taken against journalists was not journalism-related, but based on evidence. It seems that as the evidence unfolds only time will tell what lies behind the arrest of the journalists.

Bugün’s Adem Yavuz Arslan thinks that if we look at the 18th wave of Ergenekon with an objective eye, we will see that it is no different from the 17 other waves. “Today, many people ranging from university rectors to journalists to jurists were arrested. The first reactions about the arrest of these people were harsh, but since the evidence was revealed, everyone has come to admit that they did not know about it,” he says. According to Arslan, it is impossible for the prosecutors who conduct Turkey’s most challenging and largest operation to arrest individuals without the existence of sound evidence that calls for their arrest. “They would simply be crazy to detain journalists in the absence of evidence,” says Arslan.

Sabah’s Nazlı Ilıcak thinks claims that the Ergenekon operation is a way to silence the opponents of the government are unjust, particularly when the latest developments are taken into consideration. She says Şener and Şık are not known to be government opponents in the media, but journalists who write in line with the views of a certain group within the police. In this regard, she says the 18th wave of Ergenekon is linked with a group claimed to exist within the police, rather than the government.

Star’s Şamil Tayyar, who is known for his frequent coverage of the Ergenekon case, calls on journalists and professional organizations to read the process correctly. He thinks it is a contradiction to treat the journalists who investigate Ergenekon, such as himself, like “aliens” while strongly defending the rights of journalists who are investigated over their alleged links to Ergenekon. “Coup plotting does not fall into the scope of freedom of the press. If we remember that half of the March 9 junta had its members from among journalists, that they played an active role in every military coup, then it is high time for this sector, which has a bad reputation, to cleanse itself of its sins,” says Tayyar.

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