Court blocks access to 257 news stories on 5 prosecutors’ dismissal over Gülen links

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An Ankara court has blocked access to online news stories on 257 websites that in March covered the dismissal of five prosecutors by Turkey’s Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) over their alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement, a faith-based group accused by Ankara of masterminding an attempted coup in 2016, the ANKA news agency reported on Tuesday.

According to ANKA, one of the prosecutors, who was later reinstated, demanded that the Ankara Nallıhan High Criminal Court block access to the news stories since the “hurtful and traumatic” content relating to private life that can be accessed at any time “harmed” his honor and dignity and “adversely affected” his business and social life, a demand rejected by the court on June 2.

The prosecutor then appealed the decision on June 10, and the Ankara Batı 2nd Penal Court agreed to his demand, blocking access to news stories on 257 websites, including those of the state-run TRT and the pro-government Anadolu news agency.

The court saiid in the decision that the applicant’s request was accepted since the news reports about him “lost their value of reality and actuality” after he was reinstated on May 12.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, 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 intensified the crackdown on the movement following an abortive putsch on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Following the abortive putsch, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

A total of 319,587 people have been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said in November.

In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.

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