A police officer told former Zaman daily columnist Ali Bulaç, who has been in Silivri Prison since July 28 on coup charges, that he will suffer even more in prison as he did not support President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan similar to pro-government columnists, an opposition deputy said on Wednesday.

Speaking with the Cumhuriyet daily on Wednesday about his last visit to the journalists in Silivri prison in İstanbul, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul deputy Mehmet Bekaroğlu said that journalists, including Bulaç, were grossly insulted by police officers during their questioning.

According to Bekardoğlu, a high ranking police officer came in while three others were questioning Bulaç in Silivri Prison and said: “You, Ali Bulaç, You didn’t act as Ahmet Taşgetiren [a pro-government columnist]. Look, where is he now, and where are you? You didn’t know the value of the Reis (the chief, referring to Erdoğan). You are now in prison at this age and you will suffer even more.”

Bekaroğlu also visited other jailed journalists in Silivri Prison, including prominent journalist and author Ahmet Altan, his brother and professor Mehmet Altan, former pro-government Yeni Şafak daily columnist Murat Aksoy and former Zaman columnists Ahmet Turan Alkan, Şahin Alpay and Mustafa Ünal who were also jailed over coup charges.

He said that the prison administration forbade them to write and receive letters and books. He also added that 65-year-old Bulaç and 72-year-old Alpay face serious health problems in prison.

Bulaç, Alkan, Alpay and Ünal were among the 47 journalists on a list that includes former executives and columnists from the Zaman and Today’s Zaman dailies for whom detention orders were issued on July 28 for allegedly having links to a July 15 failed military coup attempt. The Altan brothers and Aksoy were also arrested on coup charges as part of police operations against critical media and journalists following the coup attempt.

President Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have accused the Gülen movement, a civil society movement inspired by the views of US-based Turkish scholar Fethullah Gülen, of being behind the coup attempt hours after the coup attempt on July 15 and started a widespread witch-hunt against Gülen sympathizers as thousands of public servants, judges, prosecutors and journalists were detained by the Turkish police for allegedly having links with Gülen.

Trustees took over the management of Feza Publishing, which includes the Zaman and Today’s Zaman dailies critical of the President Erdoğan and his AKP government, earlier in March.

Selling 600,000 copies per day, Zaman was Turkey’s best-selling daily before trustees were appointed in a government-orchestrated move in early March of this year.


This article originally appeared in Turkish Minute on October 19.