Turkish prosecutors probe politician, journalist over Istanbul protests

(This story has been updated with Ahmet Şık's remarks on the investigation in the fifth and sixth paragraphs)

Turkish prosecutors began a probe into comments allegedly made by Ahmet Şık, an independent in parliament, encouraging student protests in Istanbul and other major cities.

The Chief Prosecutor’s Office is investigating Şık under Article 214 of the Turkish penal code for “provoking the public to commit a crime”, the state-run Anadolu news agency said on Friday. Şık was cited as saying “this government will not go with elections, get out on the streets” by some local media, it said.

Tens of thousands of students and other Turkish youths have taken to the streets of Istanbul, the capital Ankara and several other major cities after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appointed a party loyalist as rector of Boğaziçi University, the country’s leading higher education institution, in early January. The students, led by leftists and LGBT activists, say the appointment of Melih Bulu amounts to an attack on the university’s secular traditions.

Şık is a former journalist who was elected as a deputy representing Istanbul for the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) at general elections in 2018. He resigned from the party in May last year.

Ahmet Şık speaking to bianet about the new investigation against him, said, "In my statement, I said, 'You cannot struggle against the mafia with a judiciary that has surrendered to the mafia. You can struggle with a judiciary that takes universal legal norms as its reference.' That was all I said... This investigation is the very proof of what I said.

"It is a proof of how the judiciary functions and that it has surrendered to the mafia; it is a proof of how right I am. A troll writes something, other trolls get involved... I am not afraid of investigations or arrests. They themselves should be afraid." 

The politician attended student protests in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district earlier this week, according to media reports.

Şık has worked for media outlets including Reuters and the secular Cumhuriyet newspaper. He is known for his investigations of the Gülen movement, an Islamic group blamed by the Turkish government for a failed military coup in 2016.

In November, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Turkey violated Şık’s rights to liberty by detaining him in December 2016 on charges of disseminating propaganda for terrorist organisations.