Erdoğan threatens judges, prosecutors in party group speech

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who claims that there are “gangs” inside the Turkish judiciary, has vowed to “purge those gangs and networks from courthouse hallways.”

Today’s Zaman reports:

Speaking at his Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Prime Minister Erdoğan reiterated his earlier allegation that there are centers, both foreign and domestic, that are trying to undermine his government. “There have been some very aggressive attacks seeking to wear out our government ahead of the elections, both from the outside and inside. At home, there was a campaign against peace, stability, democracy, the settlement process and the economy, while outside there was a planned and ill-meaning campaign against Turkey’s image.”

He said gangs inside the judiciary and the police force attacked trucks owned by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT). In January, prosecutors ordered trucks en route to Syria and escorted by Turkish intelligence officers to be stopped and searched on suspicion that they were transporting weapons to Syria. Erdoğan said the search was illegal and it had been carried out in an effort to smear Turkey’s image, label it a terrorist country. He continued the same theme on Tuesday. “Believe me, even an enemy wouldn’t have stooped this low,” he said. He claimed that the same “operation” against his government was under way. Referring to recent claims by US journalist Seymour Hersh that Turkey had masterminded a chemical attack in Syria, Erdoğan said: “Completely false allegations stating that there is a link between the chemical attack in Syria and Turkey have been put forth. There was an attempt to create the perception that there is a link between Turkey and the al-Qaeda terrorist organization, as if Turkey supports terrorism.”

Erdoğan has blamed the Hizmet movement for the conspiracy he says is being staged against his government. He said, without naming the movement on Tuesday, that circles and media related to the Hizmet movement were keeping alive such allegations both in Turkey and abroad.

He said those against his government were conducting “black propaganda” efforts against his government in the US and the EU. He accused this segment of writing letters to administrations of foreign countries, and of cooperating with the representatives of the Armenian lobby. “We are watching these attempts at betrayal and assault by pitying these circles, these individuals — because these acts are nothing but the expression of desperation. Turkey’s global influence has not been formed through image-making efforts or newspaper stories. Turkey is not a country whose reputation can be hurt by news stories, manufactured reports and columns by hired pens.”

He referred to the prosecutor who recently attempted to arrest eight police officers in Adana in an investigation into illegal wiretapping of the phones of government members as a “patriot.” Noting that the officers had been released, he said: “I would like to emphasize that there is serious resistance in the way of attempts to bring espionage activity to the light. A patriotic prosecutor in Adana launched an investigation into espionage efforts and illegal wiretaps. Some suspects were detained and arrested, but after a few days, the members of that parallel gang stepped in and intervened and the suspects were released.”

He said the parallel structure had also helped the suspects in an investigation into bugging of government officers escape the country. “The same thing happened in the investigation regarding corruption in [national] examinations. Many years have passed, and maybe evidence has been obscured.” He said the release of the officers in Adana is a plain instance of betrayal.

“When we speak of these gangs, this corruption that has been reflected in some segments of the judiciary — some people say that the executive is intervening in the judiciary.” He accused the country’s high judicial organs, particularly the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), of simply watching the “slaughtering of the law.” He also accused opposition parties the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) of keeping silent in the face of attacks on the law.

“We will purge those gangs and networks from the hallways of courthouses. But it is not easy to do it overnight. This will be a purge of a process of 35 years. Nobody can get away with what they’ve done.” He said his government defends separation of powers, but he said the legislative and executive will not allow corruption in the judiciary.

The prime minister also responded to criticism that he was keeping political tension high. “We have never been the side to raise tension. Do not pay heed to those who are loud, those who are conducting black propaganda. For the past 12 years, we have been pursuing policies of projects, and they of tension. They asked us to bring the tension down in our balcony speeches after every election. We always did so.”

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About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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