Ex-Zaman bureau chief recalls “forgotten” colleagues

The former Brussels bureau chief of closed-down Turkish newspaper Zaman has given a briefing on the continued imprisonment of some of his colleagues to the European Federation of Journalists/International Federation of Journalists (EFJ-IFJ).

Selçük Gültaşlı said that the plight of jailed former employees at the Gülen movement-linked newspaper Zaman and journalists linked to Kurdish outlets – who made up the vast majority of jailed journalists in Turkey – was being wrongly ignored by Western media outlets and rights defenders concerned about their labels.

“If you are labelled as a Gülenist journalist because you happened to work for Zaman newspaper or other Gülen-affiliated media, nobody will raise his voice to defend your rights,” Gültaşlı said.

The Turkish government says that the movement was behind the July 2016 failed coup attempt as well as a 2013 corruption case against senior government figures, several plots to oust their foes inside the military, and a string of assassinations of public figures throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

However, the movement, which is comprised of the followers of Pennsylvania-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, was essentially allied with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) until the time of the aforementioned corruption case.

Zaman was seized in March 2016 by Turkish authorities on charges of affiliation with the Gülen movement, and after the coup attempt many of its journalists were imprisoned when the movement itself was labelled a terror group.