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Turkey’s war within the judiciary deepens

There is no clear good versus evil in Turkey’s ongoing war within its judiciary, but it is clear that it will bring more evil than good to Turkey’s troubled democracy.
Supporters of Zaman daily newspaper wave a giant Turkish flag outside Istanbul's courthouse during a protest against the hugely controversial raids targeting Zaman newspaper and television channel linked to US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, on December 18, 2014 in Istanbul. Twelve suspects, including the editor-in-chief of daily Zaman, Ekrem Dumanli, and the head of the Samanyolu Media Group, Hidayet Karaca, were sent to court with demands for their arrest, while probation was sought for the other fou

An unusual legal battle took place in Turkey on the night of April 25, defined by some as “legal chaos.” An Istanbul court made an unexpected, hasty decision to free some 75 policemen and a journalist, who had been in prison for months without being sentenced. Their only crime: being members of the “parallel state,” allegedly formed by the Islamic community led by Fethullah Gulen. According to the release decision, which was composed in the middle of the night, the detained had to be freed immediately. But the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government was alarmed and employed bureaucratic delaying tactics to suspend the decision. Soon, another Istanbul court made a decision claiming that the initial decision to free the 76 suspects was not properly authorized and thus was invalid.

In the end, the suspects remained in prison. But Turkey’s ongoing battle over the judiciary only got more bitter. The pro-Gulen media, along with some other opposition voices, condemned the government for blocking a legitimate decision by a legitimate court. This, they said, proved that Turkey’s rule of law is now totally destroyed by an authoritarian government that curbs justice at its will. Meanwhile, the government and the pro-government media said the exact opposite. According to them, the “parallel state” had organized an “operation” in the judiciary to illegally free its members, but the patriotic elements of the judiciary had averted this “plot.”

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