First there was a book draft. No, first there was a book. Ahmet Şık and Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, two journalists in Turkey wrote a book about Ergenekon, allegedly an organization that planned a coup eight years ago. Except for some reserves they have written about that attempt in great detail and in defense of the court case against alleged perpetrators.
A few years later police raided an Internet news portal’s offices in Istanbul with suspicion that journalists working there might be co-conspirators with Ergenekon organization. In one of their computers a book draft was found. This draft was written by journalist Ahmet Şık. It didn’t have much info on the case, it was rather an investigation about an Islamist organization based in Pennsylvania, US. An organization made infamous by its leader’s name: Fethullah Gülen and acting as a foundation basically funds several schools around the globe to propagate Islamist thought. In his book Şık was arguing that Gülen Foundation has “infiltrated” Turkish corps of civil servants to gain control of state bureaucracy. These allegations were made several times before in Turkey, however Şık’s book supposed to have eyewitness statements and other documents to prove that.
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)
In his arraignment Şık noted that, that was not the only draft of his books, some other journalists had it as well. He had sent it for their opinion. In a while, police raided offices of the daily Radikal newspaper, Şık’s house and his lawyer’s offices with a court order to destroy all copies of the book’s drafts from their computers. In reality they were imposing censorship on an unpublished book for the first time in modern Turkish history.
In addition the court ruled that “all people with copies of this book will be considered to be in perjury of the terror law and will immediately be persecuted”.
What was in that book to make prosecutors to go as far as to contradict basic principles and procedures of law? Was it only about the relationships mentioned in the content, or Gulen foundation members within police force and prosecutors’ office were taking preventive measures not to get revealed? We may not know that yet, but what we can do is to have a glance at the book as of today since some activists have published it online!
By mid-day today, the book draft originally named “Imam’s Army” appeared at a Google Documents site aptly named “Touch & Burn” since everyone touched that draft “burned” by law one way or another. Within hours the file appeared in many sites and by 8:00 pm (Turkish Time) today more than 60.000 copies were downloaded only from sites that this author could check the count. Downloading or keeping this file in one’s computer is clear and present danger in Turkey. You may be arrested and you may stay in jail without conviction for years. It is very common in Turkey that the punishment for a crime is not executed by the courts as a result of a ruling, but simple suspicions are enough for a punishment by security forces just by arresting the suspect and keeping him in jail for years before a conviction.
Twitter and Facebook were the main tools for distribution. Thousands of people simply defied a court order and downloaded the file, kept it in their computers and read it. This was the most significant civil disobedience act this author ever witnessed at virtual sphere in Turkey. By the time this article is written numbers of copies downloaded has exceeded 90,000.
People are naturally scared, but they also know that accepting a bend in press freedom and freedom of speech albeit lawless could lead the country to a state of dictatorship that taints its recent past.
You may also download a copy of the book draft in Turkish here: “Dokunan Yanar”
Important Notice: If you wish to link the book, give your links to this page. Do not link the book directly because we change the file name quite often. Your link will be dead soon.