'If the accused prove they are innocent, then no problem' says Turkish defence minister
Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Saturday spoke at Halifax International Security Forum which annually gathers of global security leaders in Canada and said Turkey has been arresting journalists or academics, not because of their professions, but because of they are committing crimes.
Thomas Wright, director of the Center on the United States and Europe and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, asked Akar about Turkey's latest arrest of 13 academics and intellectuals including Hakan Altınay, a former senior fellow at the same institution, on the grounds of democracy and human rights.
Turkey arrested those academics and journalist, not because of their professions, but because of their actions, Akar replied. And, if they were innocent, it would come to light before the court, he added.
According to Akar, some journalists and academics are violating the law and then asking to be ignored owing to their titles.
"(They are arrested) not because they are academics or journalists but because of their actions. They are committing crimes. Before the prosecutor, before the court, if they prove they are innocent, then there will be no problem. There are many people always using those cases (arrests) against Turkey. There are lots of journalists who are writing against me, against President, against all of us. They are saying everything. Everything. As journalists, as academics, they are always very welcome. Nothing to do (about that). But, after all those events, they are asking us not to see any of them while they are doing things against our law."
Thomas Wright later on Twitter said Akar blamed journalists and did not answer his question.
Turkish minister for national defense speaking at the Halifax Security Forum. I asked him about yesterday's arrest of Hakan Altinay, formerly a non-resident senior fellow at Brookings. He blamed journalists and did not answer. #HISF2018 pic.twitter.com/bnJPchbTHO— Tom Wright (@thomaswright08) November 17, 2018
Turkish authorities on Friday detained 13 academics and intellectuals, linked with imprisoned businessman and human rights activist Osman Kavala's NGO Anadolu Kültür, pertain to their alleged involvement in the nationwide Gezi Park protests of 2013.
The detainees are charged with spreading the Gezi protests, bringing trainers and professional activists from abroad for the organisation of the protests, and promoting the activities in the media, according to the statement from the prosecutor's office.
Turkish police later released 12 of the 13 detainees, while formally arresting Yiğit Aksakoğlu, the deputy chairman of Anadolu Kültür.