Date posted: July 28, 2015
The wife of one of the teachers detained in a government-led operation against people deemed to be affiliated with a civil society organization demonized by the ruling party was asked to provide false testimony against those in custody in exchange for having her husband released.
On Thursday, the İzmir Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit raided more than 15 houses and shops belonging to locals thought to be close to the Gülen movement, a faith-based initiative also known as the Hizmet movement.
For the duration of the searches, only police officers were allowed inside the buildings, while computers, hard disks, flash drives, cellphones, CDs and DVDs were seized.
Eighteen of the 22 who were taken into custody were released on Sunday. Akif Hikmet Taşyürek, a computer science teacher, was arrested alongside three small business owners.
However, Taşyürek’s wife, Neslihan, told Today’s Zaman that during her husband’s detainment she was called by an anonymous number where the caller offered to have her husband released in return for false testimony concerning the others detained.
Underlining that her husband had done nothing wrong, she said: “They detained my husband, while thieves and rapists roam free. I know that my husband has done nothing wrong. I am proud of him.”
Those detained were accused of granting financial support to and being members of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his associates within the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) claim instigated a corruption probe that went public on Dec. 17, 2013, incriminating four former Cabinet ministers, businessmen with close ties to the government, senior bureaucrats and family members of the then-prime minister as part of an effort to overthrow the government.
Friday’s police raid was made legal by a controversial law passed in December 2014 allowing authorities to detain anyone about whom there is “reasonable suspicion” — rather than tangible evidence — of involvement in a crime. With the new law, the threshold for the burden of proof required to obtain a search warrant and detain suspects was reduced.
The AK Party has targeted people thought to be close to the Gülen movement in a series of operations since December 2013. Almost all of those detained have subsequently been released after a few days because the authorities failed to provide evidence proving that they had been involved in criminal activity.
Erdoğan claims the Gülen movement tried and failed to carry out a coup attempt against him and his government in December 2013 and has waged a self-declared war against the movement, even going so far as to say, “If reassigning [public-sector workers] who betray this country is called a witch hunt, then yes, we will carry out this witch hunt,” during a speech at an AK Party conference in 2014.
Source: Today's Zaman