Despite Turkish authorities strain every nerve to hide from the international community facts exposing close collaboration of Erdogan and his puppets with ISIS, plenty of evidence regularly surfaces in different media sources, including Turkish mass media. Those facts, which have already been published, should be sufficient for the International Criminal Court to deliver guilty verdict against Erdogan and his Cabinet on charges of oil trade with terrorists, support of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations, arming of terrorists, training of militants in Turkish military camps and sending them to replenish units fighting in Syria and Iraq. Turkey should also be charged with orchestrating the flow of refugees coming from countries of the Middle East to Europe and destabilizing social welfare and economic stability in EU. Actually, even Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman does not dismiss the involvement of Turkey in oil trade with ISIS since, technically speaking, there is simply no other route for delivering oil out of Syria except through Turkey.
It should also be reminded that on January 19, 2014, a humanitarian convoy heading to Syria was detained by Turkish gendarmerie forces, and Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet published pictures evidencing that the convoy trucks were smuggling armaments for militants of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra instead of delivering humanitarian aid, and that the National Intelligence Organization (Turkey) was involved in the criminal act. To hide this fact, in November 2015, Turkish authorities arrested Can Dundar and Erdem Gul — journalists, who published this information — at the personal order of President Erdogan.
On January 27 this year, Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office completed an indictment with respect to these Turkish journalists on charges of the “receipt of secret information for the purposes of political and military espionage, its disclosure, anti-government activities and rendering of deliberate assistance to armed terrorist organizations.” In order to carry out the political put-up job ordered by Erdogan, Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office deliberately misinterpreted published by journalists of Cumhuriyet photos evidencing collaboration of authorities with ISIS, and offered its version of the case, according to which the journalists were “collaborating with the Gulenist Terror Organization (i.e. an organization of adepts of the Turkish religious and political oppositionist to the current authority, Fethullah Gulen, who now resides in the US). Understanding the absurdity of the indictment, the Public Prosecutor’s Office insists on the closed-door court hearing of the case and will seek maximum life imprisonment for the journalists, i.e. life sentence plus 30 more years of imprisonment.
Opposition Turkish mass media has already harshly criticized the announced indictment, saying in their publications that the indictment is not based on solid evidence, and that its aim is to shape a public opinion that would suit the needs of the authorities.
In its statement, the international organization Journalists Without Borders called upon the Istanbul court “to return the senseless indictment to the Public Prosecutor’s Office and in doing so repair reputation of the Turkish justice.”
The Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hahn wrote in his Twitter account that he had been shocked to find out that the Turkish journalists, who published the truth, had been sentenced to life in prison.
The non-governmental US organization Committee to Protect Journalists demanded to drop charges brought against Turkishjournalists Can Dundar and Erdem Gul. And Deputy Executive Director of the NGO Robert Mahoney said, “Politically motivated prosecutions of journalists are again on the rise in Turkey. Threatening the journalists with life in prison is a contrived affair intended to intimidate reporters so that they would engage in self-censorship. Apparently, President of Turkey Tayyip Erdogan wants to keep under control the coverage of Turkey’s attitude toward the war in Syria and of Turkish south-east inhabited by Kurds.”
German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said that to once and forever discourage citizens of Turkey from shedding light on wrongful acts of authorities, President of Turkey Erdogan intended to turn the case against the journalists, who exposed Ankara’s ties with ISIS, into a “severe show trial,” simultaneously delivering a sentence to the freedom of Turkish press. “The indictment in the case of two journalists sends a rather unambiguous message to the whole country—Ankara has the unrestricted and unique right to conceal its actions and tell frank lies, and that draconian measures will be applied to any person contesting this right.”
The coverage of this case in the Turkish mass media coincides with the publication of new pieces of evidence of criminal ties of Turkish authorities with ISIS militants. For example, at the end of January Cumhuriyet, with reference to the data provided by the country’s Interior Ministry, published information about the routes most often used by ISIS jihadists arriving in Turkey from abroad for the subsequent participation in combat operations in Syria. In particular, it was reported that foreign nationals looking to join ISIS or Jabhat al-Nusra usually first come to Istanbul and then go to Turkish provinces of Kilis, Gaziantep or Sanliurfa, which they use as transfer points and where they stay for some time on their way to Syria, while recruits of Jabhat al-Nusra mainly go through Hatay. “Conscripts” of radical groups fighting in Syria originating from Transcaucasia enter Turkey mainly through the Sarpi checkpoint on the Georgian-Turkish border.
As for the citizens of Turkey fighting on the side of Islamists in Syria, according to the reports published by Cumhuriyet, they mostly come from Istanbul, Adana and Konya.
The periodical also points out that on their return to their home countries from Syria, militants of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra try to mingle with the flow of Syrian refugees to later transfer unnoticed from Turkey to Greece or Italy by land or sea.
A common-sense question arises in connection with the foregoing: If Turkish Cumhuriyet publishes such in-depth information about the routes of movement of militants across the Turkish territory, how can it be possible that the authorities of this country and, moreover, its secret services are unaware of the situation? Or, perhaps, they do patronize ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist groups in Syria after all and persecute journalists, who happened to discover and disclose these shameful facts, which Turkish establishment failed to keep secret? At least, judging by the actions of Erdogan and his accomplices in respect of Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, this scenario looks very convincing.
Then, isn’t it high time to try the real culprits form the Turkish establishment, those who are directly involved in aiding terrorists? Aren’t publications of independent journalists and mass media sufficient to bring charges against them?
Vladimir Odintsov, political commentator, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”