RELIGION

Turkey jails 2 journalists from opposition newspaper

Two journalists from a pro-secular opposition newspaper in Turkey have been arrested and accused of aiding a terror organization.

Turkey's official Anadolu news agency said nationalist Sozcu newspaper's online editor Mediha Olgun and reporter Gokmen Ulu were charged with aiding the network of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen without being members.

The government blames Gulen for orchestrating last year's coup attempt, which he denies.

Sozcu is a supporter of the secular legacy of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and a critic of Turkey's president and government as well as Gulen.

The newspaper published its Saturday edition with the headline "A dark day for Turkish media and journalism," protesting the arrests.

Ulu is also accused of aiding in "assassinating and assaulting the president" for an article on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's holiday location hours before the coup attempt.

In his court testimony published by Sozcu, Ulu said he was in shock over the allegations and said the article was proof of successful journalism.

Enis Berberoglu, a lawmaker from the main opposition, pro-secular Republican People's Party, called the allegation that Sozcu would work with Gulen's network "slanderous." Parliamentarian Baris Yarkadas said: "Journalism was arrested."

Turkey is also seeking the arrest of newspaper owner Burak Akbay, who is abroad. Anadolu said Akbay's file contained testimonies that he was raised within Gulen's network and a 2016 crossword puzzle that allegedly indicated the newspaper's editorial stance served the cleric.

Since the declaration of a state of emergency after the July 15 failed coup, some 140 media organizations have been closed by executive decrees.

More than 47,000 people have been arrested for alleged links to groups Turkey lists as terror organizations, including Gulen's network. According to Platform 24, an independent watchdog, 169 journalists are behind bars.