Turkey Orders 47 Journalists, Executives at Zaman Newspaper Detained

Zaman, which was linked to Fethullah Gulen's religious movement, was raided by police and seized by the government in March as part of a clampdown on the group.

Turkish riot police officers arrive to take positions at the courthouse where prosecutors are questioning hundreds of coup plotters, Ankara, Turkey, July 20, 2016.
Burhan Ozbilici, AP

Turkish authorities issued warrants Wednesday for the detention of 47 former executives or senior journalists at the Zaman newspaper, which was associated with the U.S.-based Muslim cleric who the government says is behind Turkey's failed July 15 coup.

At least one journalist, former Zaman columnist Sahin Alpay, was detained at his home early Wednesday, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. Zaman, which was linked to Fethullah Gulen's religious movement, was raided by police and seized by the government in March as part of a clampdown on the group.

As he was being detained, Alpay said he had committed "no crimes" and did not know why he was being taken away.

"I don't know why. I'll find out now," he said.

Earlier this week, Turkey issued arrest warrants against 42 other journalists, of whom 16 have been detained for questioning.

Turkey has detained more than 13,000 people in the military, judiciary and other institutions in purges since the uprising. Tens of thousands of other state employees with suspected links to Gulen have been suspended from their jobs in sectors including education, health care, city government and even Turkish Airlines.

Gulen, who lives in the United States and runs a global network of schools and foundations, has repeatedly denied any knowledge of the coup attempt.

The detention of journalists and wide-scale purges of officials have raised concerns about a possible witch hunt by the government in the wake of the coup attempt that killed about 290 people.

In a statement Wednesday, the Turkish military said as many as 35 warplanes, 37 helicopters, 74 tanks and three navy vessels were used by the plotters in their failed coup attempt. At least 8,651 military personnel were involved, it said, adding that they constituted 1.5 percent of the Armed Forces' personnel.

The country's energy minister, meanwhile, lamented what he said was a lack of strong support from European nations and the United States toward Turkey's efforts to counter the "anti-democratic" process.

"Until now, we have not received the backing and the statements that we, the whole of Turkey, expect from these countries," said Berat Albayrak, who is also President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's son-in-law.

He warned that a lack of support for Turkey could harm ties with allies.

"There is a need for an intelligent and rational review by our interlocutors," Albayrak said Wednesday. "Otherwise, countries may be deprived of the contribution of a country that can contribute to peace and stability."

Albayrak did not elaborate, but his comments were an apparent reference to criticism from European officials to the government clampdown that has followed the coup attempt, and perceived reluctance in the United States to extradite Gulen.

The U.S. has told Turkey to present evidence against Gulen and let the U.S. extradition process take its course.

Turkey has branded his movement a terror organization and Albayrak claimed the Gulen group was "more dangerous" than the Islamic State group or the Kurdish rebels who have carried out deadly suicide bombings in the country in the past year.