The police searched the Radikal newspaper office at the Hürriyet Media Towers in Istanbul on Thursday (24 March). Reason for the search was the yet unpublished book of journalist Ahmet Şık who is under arrested in the context of the Ergenekon investigation since 6 March.
Ergenekon is a clandestine ultra-nationalist terrorist organization charged with plotting to overthrow the government.
Şık's manuscript entitled "The Imam's Army" was apparently dealing with an alleged organization established within the police by the Fetullah Gülen religious community. The police tried to find drafts of the book on the computer of Radikal newspaper journalist Ertuğrul Mavioğlu.
In a brief statement on the Turkish news channel NTV, Mavioğlu said that the police took a draft of the book that he received from Şık in December 2010 from his computer. He said he was told to delete the document from his hard disk.
While Mavioğlu was speaking on NTV, the police deleted the manuscript from his computer, as reported later on.
The police also raided the İthaki Printing House twice on Wednesday night and on Thursday (23/24 March) upon the directive of Ergenekon Prosecutor Zekeriya Öz. The İthaki company was supposedly going to publish Şık's book. The search of the publishing house in Kadıköy (Asian side of Istanbul) on Wednesday night took about six hours.
Upon the decision of the Istanbul 12th High Criminal Court, the police furthermore asked journalist Şık's wife Yonca Şık and his lawyers to hand over drafts and attachments of the book.
It is claimed in the decision that the book was written and to be published "upon the order of the Ergenekon Armed Terrorist Organization".
Publishers condemn police raid on İthaki company
The Association of Turkish Publishers (TYB), the Turkish Writers Union (TYS) and the PEN Turkey Centre condemned the police raid on the İthaki Printing House. "The seizure of the copy of Ahmet Şık's unpublished book from a printing house is the latest indication for the dangerous level freedom of publishing has reached", the associations deplored.
"We observe with concern that applications against journalists and writers such as prosecution, arrest and imprisonment on the grounds of the books they write and the news they make became more and more widespread throughout the last years".
The joint statement signed by TYS President Enver Ercan, PEN Turkey Centre Vice President Halil İbrahim Özcan and TYB President Metin Celal was released at the Istanbul Medical Chamber on Thursday. It included harsh criticism on the police search related to the unpublished book.
The TYB pointed to the fact that the police erased the electronic documents from the computers of the printing company. "As writers and publishers organizations we take a stance against all sorts of restrictions, pressure and obstruction of writing, creating and conveying the results in spoken or written form".
Lawyer Cinmen: HSYK should intervene
The court decision included the threat of legal action against the lawyers and other people in case they would not provide the documents. It read that individuals who refuse to hand over the drafts and copies were going to be charged on "assisting and abetting an illegal organization" according to Article 124 of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK). Lawyer Ergin Cinmen said that assessing an unpublished book in the scope of terrorist activities could not be aligned with any concept of law.
The potential application of Article 124 TCK for individuals who keep a copy or other documents related to the manuscript was evaluated as "unlawful" by Cinmen. The lawyer pointed to the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) as the only mechanism to audit this course of events.
According to Cinmen, a court decision is legitimate only if the court acts according to the law. "If a court decision is clearly not in line with the law, the legitimacy of both the decision and the court should be questioned. People develop a sense of despair if the feeling of justice fades away". (BB/EKN/EÖ/VK)
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