Erdoğan admits arrest operation against police officers carried out on his instructions

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan admitted on Tuesday that an operation staged on July 22 against dozens of high-ranking police officials who had carried out the Dec. 17 bribery and corruption operation was done upon his instructions.

Speaking on a TV program, Erdoğan defended the illegal actions against members of the Hizmet movement, saying they are determined to continue their fight against the movement no matter what happens.

Erdoğan continued to vilify the Hizmet movement, which he accuses of being the parallel state, saying: “Everybody is well aware of our struggle against them [Hizmet]. We made the necessary appointments. We appointed new judges and they will get to work tomorrow. They will be part of our fight against the parallel state.”

The operation against the high-ranking police officials came only a few hours after Erdoğan admitted that he ordered it, which has led legal experts to comment that the prime minister and his government have been working on a plan to turn the Turkish legal system upside down to punish the movement.

Erdoğan also made a similar statement last week that the government has a plan to assign “super judges” to tackle an operation against the faith-based Hizmet movement. Super judges, or penal judges of the peace, refer to judges who have been granted many powers through a recently approved omnibus law introduced by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). These judges are criticized for having been endowed with broad powers over investigations and other courts’ rulings.

The prime minister has been harshly criticized for his remarks by observers and legal experts, who say his remarks are a clear indication that the prime minister is directly involved in a planned legal action against a civil society group — the Hizmet movement.

According to the prime minister’s plans against Hizmet, it is already clear which court and judges will handle the legal case against the movement, who the suspects to stand trial in the case are and what these suspects will be accused of — a process that is diametrically opposed to the rule of law.

The Hizmet movement promotes interfaith dialogue and the resolution of problems through peaceful means throughout the world. However, Prime Minister Erdoğan’s AK Party has recently been engaged in a bitter struggle against the movement. This conflict intensified after Dec. 17, 2013, when a major government graft operation became public. Although the prime minister has not provided any evidence to prove his assertions, he claims the operation was orchestrated by the Hizmet movement, which intended to overthrow his government. The movement denies the accusation.

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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