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Freedom, freedom of press, or otherwise

By | March 6, 2011 at 7:52 pm | 2 comments | Freedom of Expression, Human Rights, Opinion, Turkey | Tags: , ,

Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener were sent to jail early this morning. Both investigative journalists with different backgrounds or ideologies, they had one common characteristic: pursuit of truth.

And truth is a dangerous subject matter in Turkey.

Nedim Şener is rather known in local and International media as an investigative journo and with his recent books on the background of Hrant Dink murder. So, I will concentrate on Ahmet Şık and his work, and attempt to shed some light on why this case is becoming a stage in the series of actions by Turkish state to oppress opinion makers in the country.

Ahmet is another investigative journalist whose kind is rarely seen in Turkish media. He has an academical and scrupulous attitude towards his work, and in spite of common tradition in Turkish maid, he always works with the evidence and try to reach the truth no matter what the rewards or the dangers of doing so. He has co-written a book about Ergenekon in Turkey, about ultra-nationalistic and interventionist formations within the military. But he was also very critical on the details of Ergenekon indictment for lacking the real connections between the organization and latest crimes of hate and discrimination in the country.

Last, but of course not the least, he has a finished but not published book on the religious community of Fethullah Gülen and their connections within the state mechanism. And a draft of this book “surfaces” in the computers of other journalists accused of being Ergenekon members.

This morning he was arrested by a court claiming that, Ahmet Şık, a Marxist, was a member of an ultra-nationalist organization and “to arouse animosity and hate in public in general”.

The only evidence so far known to connect Ahmet to this organization is a draft of a book found in an other journalist’s computer who is yet to be convicted of any connection to this organization himself. Second accusation; “to arouse….” is an open-ended and undemocratic code in itself. One can prove that, say against myself, in many articles written by me, here on this blog. Freedom of expression does not cover only love letters. Writing in itself is provocative, and loses its purpose when stripped of its fervor. This article covers an area left behind since the latest changes in criminal law in Turkey, which traditionally served to oppress any and every kind of opposition in the country.

Many journalists in Turkey as well as many International organizations are considering these arrests as a violation of freedom of expression and slam Turkish government with requests to modernize laws concerning freedom of speech. I agree, but my point for the sake of this article is different.

I have just learned that all questions asked to him during interrogations and arraignment were concerning his writings. The facts about his work, his investigations, and the manner the investigations were handled by the prosecutor’s office, leaves one but only one conclusion: Ahmet Şık was arrested for his opinions and for the dangers the status-quo perceived as a result of his investigative work. The court did not come up with one single conceivable evidence other than hearsay or opinions of other suspects.

And now, obviously, one could think “what about the previous arrests?” Just because they had more nationalistic views why wouldn’t we give them the benefit of doubt?

As a rule of thumb, when a system loses its validity in judicial proceedings, and if a system does not function on presumption of innocence and starts chain-accusing people based on the actions of non-convicted others, one cannot speak of a fair jurisprudence.

And when there is no law to trust, there cannot be freedoms in the modern sense because they are dependent on who you are and where in time you are.

Let alone freedom of the press.

About the Author

Stratos Moraitis Stratos Moraitis

Blogger, writer & photographer of a free nature with a focus on human rights & minority issues in Turkey,Greece and Middle East. Follow Stratos at Twitter: @oemoral and Like our page at Facebook

2 Comments

  1. “Virtual” Disobedience « Dew on the Dove (6 years ago)

    […] After a while police in Istanbul raided Ahmet Şık and another investigative journalist Nedim Şener’s houses and arrested them with accusation “to arouse animosity and hate in public in general”. They had found some notes on the copy of Şık’s book draft “suggesting” that “some” people had given him instructions on how to write about certain issues. According to legislation concerning journalism in Turkey, all sources are sacred, but this investigation was implemented under “terror” law, so they forced Şık to tell his resources. Naturally he denied and refused all charges which didn’t save him from being arrested. (For an in-deep analysis of the developments please read my previous article) […]

  2. The Globe Times > » “Virtual” Disobedience » The Globe Times (5 years ago)

    […] After a while police in Istanbul raided Ahmet Şık and another investigative journalist Nedim Şener’s houses and arrested them with accusation “to arouse animosity and hate in public in general”. They had found some notes on the copy of Şık’s book draft “suggesting” that “some” people had given him instructions on how to write about certain issues. According to legislation concerning journalism in Turkey, all sources are sacred, but this investigation was implemented under “terror” law, so they forced Şık to tell his resources. Naturally he denied and refused all charges which didn’t save him from being arrested. (For an in-deep analysis of the developments please read my previous article) […]

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