Read the Turkish original here. The text has been edited editorially for the German version.
The history of authoritarian regimes is not only one of dictators, intelligence agents and torturers, it is also that of collaborators and informers.
In the following, I would like to report how a newspaper that was able to assert itself for a long time in a country without press freedom was "taken over internally".
has become known around the world in recent years for its freedom struggle against the tyranny of the Erdoğan regime. In a climate in which the government took control of virtually all media, the newspaper had become a last bastion. The attacks became more frequent, leaders, authors, reporters were arrested, charged, convicted. Not enough, she was driven to the brink of financial ruin by an ad embargo. But the national and international public, who entered the country for a free Turkey, put themselves behind the paper. Two years ago she was awarded the Alternative Nobel Prize. Despite all the difficulties, she managed to assert herself.
The Cumhuriyet trial of 19 defendants, including myself as the main defendant, exemplifies the reprisals faced by the independent press of those days. Not only our course, our articles and reporting were charged to us, our headlines and photos, even the layout. The accusations did not come only from the public prosecutors who are now under total government control, but also from former officials and employees who testified against us in court.
For example, one of the former editors of the publisher's foundation criticized the newspaper's course in his testimony in court. The issue of 23 May 2015 made him cry because "right next to the logo Gülen praised".
Of course, I remembered the page in question, because then I was editor in chief. The 83-year-old ex-official is not a journalist and seems to think that in a newspaper you only print photos of people you like. However, the report in question referred to Erdoğan's son-in-law (to whom he later placed the economy of the country) visiting Gülen, who had been declared the "greatest enemy," at home. Presumably tears had kept the ex-official from seeing and reading the report clearly.
You can only laugh about such a nonsensical pitch, right? But the government did not laugh and did not let the matter rest on its own. Due to such denunciations and accusations, journalists and newspaper leaders were sentenced to long prison terms. The accusation was "aid and support to the Gülen organization", and behind bars should not Erdoğan, who had cooperated with Gülen for years, and his son-in-law, who had visited him.
Meanwhile, on the basis of a court document, it came to light that Erdoğan had been complaining about the above report in an anonymous denunciation. The letter to the Presidential Palace said: "You are our last hope. Please intervene and give us the
Attentive eyes immediately realized that the complainant in court and the letter writer were one and the same person.
Erdoğan now knew: Would he take the chance and the
Split from the inside, his battle against the hitherto steadfast newspaper could still be won. Erdoğan's judiciary recently ruled that the Editors Foundation's four-year board election was void. And guess what, who got to the top of the paper last week by re-voting?
Right: our tearful informer. After the
was able to withstand all pressure and to gain international recognition with their fight for freedom, unfortunately fell victim to the power greed. Many officials and journalists who had been arrested and charged and had to pay dearly then took their leave of the newspaper in droves.
As an introduction, I said that the history of authoritarian regimes was also the story of collaborators and informers. After all, you remember these people with their misdeeds. What remains are the heroes who fight against repression.
From the Turkish of