Turkey has approved orders to arrest more reporters suspected of ties to a Muslim clergyman living in the United States.
Turkish officials claim the religious leader plotted the attempted overthrow of the government this month. The attempt failed.
Officials announced arrest orders for more than 40 former members of the editorial staff of Zaman, the country’s largest newspaper.
In March, a Turkish court placed the newspaper under government control. Police officers raided its offices a short time later. Since then, the paper has taken a strongly pro-government position in its reporting.
Earlier this week, the government ordered the arrest of 42 other media workers.
The actions are part of a wider operation to punish government officials and others after the overthrow attempt. Amnesty International estimates that more than 10,000 people have been detained in Turkey since the July 15 coup failed.
The Zaman newspaper was closely connected with the religious movement of clergyman Fethullah Gulen. He now lives in the American state of Pennsylvania.
On Tuesday, The New York Times newspaper published an opinion piece Gulen wrote. In the piece, he condemned the coup attempt and denied having any part in it. He denounced Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan for what he called a ‘systematic and dangerous drive toward one-man rule.’
Gulen said Erdogan is threatening to limit his country’s support for the coalition against the Islamic State unless the United States surrenders him to Turkey. The Turkish government says the clergyman must face legal action in Turkey.
The religious leader accused Erdogan of ‘blackmailing’ the U.S. government. The U.S. must resist the demands, he said.
Jonathan Adelman teaches international studies at the University of Denver in Colorado. He spoke with VOA on Wednesday. He said he thinks Gulen has a point.
"What he is saying is what we (Americans) are afraid of: That Turkey, which had really been a model for the Middle East in terms of strong economic growth, doubling their output in a period of 10 years, democracy and trying to end military coups, now seems intent on taking Turkey almost like into the Vladimir Putin way as a kind of one-man dictatorship, and that is something that we’re really very concerned about.”
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told The Wall Street Journal newspaper that the government’s evidence against Fethullah Gulen is clear. He likened the attempted coup to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States.
Yildirim criticized what he called a ‘heartbreaking lack of support from the Obama administration’ for Turkey’s extradition request. A U.S. official said on Tuesday that the two countries have an extradition process and said, “We’re going to let that play out.”
I’m Ashley Thompson.
Words in This Story
editorial staff – adj. the leadership or publishers of a newspaper
coup – n. a military overthrow of a government
blackmailing – v. threatening to take action unless the person or group being threatened does what you want
output – n. the amount of something being produced
intent – v. showing great attention
extradition – n. the surrender of a criminal suspect, usually under the rules of a treaty