Counterterrorism police in the southern province of Antalya on July 25, 2016, detained Ünal, a former reporter for the shuttered daily Zaman and Cihan News Agency, as part of a sweeping purge of journalists and others suspected of following exiled preacher Fethullah Gülen, according to press reports. The government accuses Gülen of maintaining a terrorist organization and “parallel state structure” (or FETÖ/PDY, as the government calls it) within Turkey that it blames for orchestrating a failed July 15, 2016, military coup.
On July 27, 2016, a criminal court in Antalya ordered Ünal and eight other journalists also detained in Antalya two days prior jailed pending trial on charges they are FETÖ/PDY propagandists, according to press reports. The reports gave no further details.
Zaman and the Cihan News Agency were among the more than 100 newspapers, broadcasters, news agencies, and magazines the Turkish government ordered closed by decree on July 27, 2016, using emergency powers it assumed after the attempted coup, saying the media outlets were FETÖ/PDY mouthpieces, according to Turkey’s Official Gazette. Since then, CPJ research shows that Turkish authorities have jailed dozens of Zamanand Cihan News Agency journalists pending trial on terrorism-related offenses.
CPJ tried to contact defense lawyers for the nine journalists. Those lawyers that CPJ was able to reach declined to provide the organization with further information or documentation.