Turkish prosecutors probe writer Zarakolu on coup charges

Turkish prosecutors have opened an investigation into the writer and publisher Ragıp Zarakolu after he was accused of covertly advocating for a coup in an article, news site Diken said. 

The terrorism and organised crime branch of Istanbul’s chief public prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation into Zarakolu for "targeting the constitutional order by sending a coup message," Diken said. 

The probe was opened following criminal complaints by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Turkish officials were angered by an article by Zarakolu on Tuesday, published by news sites Evrensel and Artı Gerçek, titled: “There is no escape from ill fortune”.

Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun accused the author of making “coup and execution threats” by using a photo of Erdoğan next to one of former prime minister Adnan Menderes, who was executed after the 1960 coup.

Erdoğan’s lawyers filed a criminal complaint, claiming that Zarakolu had compared him to Menderes and was attempting to damage “public peace by creating fear and dispute”. They also accused Zarakolu of “longing for a coup”. 

Zarakolu has vehemently denied the allegations. “It’s inexplicable how the article could be misinterpreted this much,” Evrensel quoted him as saying. 

He said his article was advocating against coups. “All my life I have fought against coups,” Zarakolu said.

Zarakolu is also a human rights activist and freedom of speech advocate who has been targeted several times by the Turkish authorities due to his work.