Police in the Mediterranean town of Marmaris on November 29, 2016, detained Vedat Beki-editor of the news website Sözcü 18, which focuses on regional news from Turkey’s northern Çankırı Province-as part of a sweeping purge of suspected followers of exiled preacher Fethullah Gülen, according to press reports. The Turkish government accuses Gülen of maintaining a terrorist organization and “parallel state structure” (FETÖ/PDY, as the government calls it) within Turkey that it alleges masterminded a failed July 15, 2016, military coup. Prosecutors in Çankırı Province had sought the editor’s arrest for nine months, the pro-opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet reported.
Beki has a history of criticizing both the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Gülenist network, which maintained a tactical alliance against the security services’ involvement in politics until 2013.
In a 2012 editorial for Sözcü 18, Beki wrote about his detention for alleging that AKP officials in Çankırı had engaged in corrupt practices. In 2014, he described as weak the AKP’s candidates for the 2015 elections-in which the AKP failed to secure a majority for the first time since it came to power in 2002-and criticized legislationmaking it easier to censor websites. In his last editorial for Sözcü 18, published July 27, 2016, Beki blamed the July 15 attempted coup on “FETÖ,” using the government’s preferred nomenclature, and the United States, as many pro-government journalists did, but also on a group within the “deep state” and disaffected members of the AKP itself.
Beki was brought to the Marmaris Police Anti-Organized Crime Directorate and was awaiting transfer to Çankırı Province to face charges there as of late 2016. No specific charges against Beki had been disclosed as of December 1, 2016, but Cumhuriyet reported that his arrest was linked to FETÖ/PDY investigation, under which dozens of other journalists face charges of “membership in a [terrorist] organization,” “propagandizing for a [terrorist] organization,” or aiding a terrorist organization without being a member.