Turkish gov’t seizes pension of jailed media executive Hidayet Karaca

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The pension of jailed media executive Hidayet Karaca was confiscated by the Turkish government, his son Sıdkı Karaca said in a tweet on Wednesday, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.

“All of his property was confiscated illegally before despite constitutional and legal guarantees,” Sıdkı Karaca said. “As of today, his only remaining income, his pension, was confiscated.”

Karaca, former chief executive of the Samanyolu Media Group, has been held in the notorious Silivri Prison in İstanbul since December 14, 2014 and was sentenced by an İstanbul court to 31 years, six months’ imprisonment over the scenario of a TV series that was broadcast by Samanyolu TV. Karaca was sentenced on charges of membership in a terrorist organization for his alleged ties to the Gülen movement and for allegedly slandering the al-Qaeda-affiliated radical Islamist group Tahşiyeciler.

Previous reports by police intelligence, military intelligence and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) had described Tahşiyeciler as a terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda. In a 2009 live broadcast on CNN Türk TV, the leader of the Tahşiyeciler group stated that he liked former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. On May 23, 2016 Mustafa Kaplan, a complainant in the case, admitted to having written a book that praises suicide bombers.

In June 2018 the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court handed down an aggravated life sentence to Karaca on charges of attempting to overturn the constitutional order. His sentence was later upheld by the 20th Criminal Chamber of the Ankara Regional Court of Justice in November 2020 as part of a case that was launched against 75 people accused of links to the faith-based movement inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by the Turkish cleric, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He locked up thousands including many prosecutors, judges and police officers involved in the investigation as well as journalists who reported on them.

Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. The crackdown also targeted political opponents of the government, Kurdish activists and human rights defenders, among others. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) described Turkey as “the world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists” in its 2020 World Press Freedom Index, in which Turkey was ranked 154th among 180 countries in terms of press freedom.

According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom’s “Jailed and Wanted Journalists in Turkey” database, 174 journalists are currently behind bars in Turkey, while 167 are wanted and are either in exile or remain at large.

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