The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office has launched an investigation into dissident writer Ragıp Zarakolu over an opinion piece in which he criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan via comparing him to former Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, who was executed by hanging.
The prosecutors are accusing Zarakolu of "targeting the constitutional order by sending a [subliminal] message about the coup," Turkish media outlets reported on May 7.
The prosecutors' move came after Erdoğan and Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun separately filed a lawsuit against Zarakolu for his column titled "No Escape from Ill Fate," which was published in news website Artı Gerçek, a subsidiary of Arti Media, and daily Evrensel on May 5. The column draws attention to Erdoğan's increasingly antidemocratic practices.
The petition submitted by Erdoğan's lawyer Ahmet Özel to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office on May 6 accused Zarakolu of "targeting Erdoğan" and of "committing crime against Erdoğan and Turkey's constitutional order."
The petition said that the writer's opinion piece was "outing a coup" and demanded that prosecutors launch a criminal case against Zarakolu and managing director of Artı Gerçek.
"With a reference to Turkey's recent history in his piece based on ideology and with his statement of 'Coronavirus days have directed not only Turkey but also the whole world towards a period of interrogation. It is impossible for Erdoğan and his crew to avoid this,' he [Ragıp Zarakolu] has touted a coup," the petition said.
"The so-called article full of anti-democratic expectations, which has created a big reaction in the public, has explicitly emphasized 'a longing for coup' and 'a love for coup,'" the petition read, adding that "an explicit coup and execution threat were made" against Erdoğan.
Erdoğan's petition came a day after Altun announced that he also filed a lawsuit against Zarakolu and Arti Media company.
The petition submitted by Altun's lawyer Sezgin Tunç to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office accused Zarakolu of "explicitly threatening Erdoğan with coup and execution."
İletişim Başkanı @fahrettinaltun, Cumhurbaşkanımız @RTErdogan ile merhum Başbakan Adnan Menderes’in fotoğraflarına yan yana yer vererek darbe ve idam tehdidi içeren yazı nedeniyle Ragıp Zarakolu ve Arti Media hakkında suç duyurusunda bulundu. https://t.co/vFkknqBTjC— T.C. İletişim Başkanlığı (@iletisim) May 5, 2020
On May 5, several officials from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) slammed Zarakolu, with Altun saying: "We stand with our President, who doesn't bow down to this sick mentality and threats, to the end."
Kaderi tayin eden Allah’a yemin olsun ki bu hastalıklı zihniyete ve tehditlerine boyun eğmeden milleti için dimdik duran liderimiz, Cumhurbaşkanımız Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’ın sonuna kadar yanında, sonuna kadar arkasındayız. pic.twitter.com/I0px3CcTpw— Fahrettin Altun (@fahrettinaltun) May 4, 2020
"You'll go down in history with your discourses on coup, junta and execution. You'll grieve with the hatred for Erdoğan and suffocate in your grudge. The people won't allow any of your evil plans. We will never allow you to hand this country over to others," Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said on May 5.
Darbe, junta, idam söylemlerinizle tarihin çöplük kutusuna yuvarlanıp gideceksiniz.— Ibrahim Kalin (@ikalin1) May 5, 2020
Erdoğan nefretiyle kahrolacak, kininizde boğulacaksınız.
Bu millet sizin hiçbir meşum planınıza geçit vermeyecek.
Bu memleketi birilerine peşkeş çekmenize asla müsade etmeyeceğiz. pic.twitter.com/SYCCUAtaWb
Menderes, a name frequently commemorated by Erdoğan and the AKP, was executed by hanging following a coup in 1960 after serving as prime minister for 10 years.Education Ministry launches probe into cartoon showing execution of former Turkish PM Menderes
AKP spokesperson Ömer Çelik also slammed Zarakolu.
"This path that's followed by those making antidemocratic calls against the presidential post aims to destroy all the democratic gains of this country. They've openly started to threaten the will of the people. They're trying to steal our democracy," Çelik tweeted on May 5.
Cumhurbaşkanlığı makamına karşı anti-demokratik çağrılarda bulunanların döşemeye çalıştığı yol bu ülkenin tüm demokratik kazanımlarını imha etmeyi hedefliyor. Milletimizin iradesini açıkça tehdit etmeye başladılar. Demokrasimizi çalmaya çalışıyorlar. pic.twitter.com/hk8wgNjJDF— Ömer Çelik (@omerrcelik) May 5, 2020
Zarakolu: I have spent my whole life fighting against coups, coup tendencies
Meanwhile, Zarakolu addressed the accusations on May 5 saying that he had stood up against coups his whole life and his column had been greatly misinterpreted by the AKP officials.Turkish court orders confiscation of dissident writer Zarakolu's assets
"It is incomprehensible how the column has been so much misinterpreted. It is obvious the presidential spokespeople have not read the piece adequately. I spent whole my life fighting against coups and coup tendencies," Zarakolu said in his statement.
Zarakolu has been living in Sweden since 2013 and has faced a number of court cases in Turkey prior to and since then.
The 72-year-old writer has long been known for his anti-establishment views and has been persecuted by various governments in Turkey for decades due to his writing on touchy subjects including the Kurdish issue and the Armenian Genocide.
In September of last year, a Swedish prosecutor requested that Turkey’s extradition request for Zarakolu be rejected, and on Dec. 18 the prosecutor’s request was approved by Sweden’s Supreme Court. The Swedish high court said it rejected Turkey’s demand for extradition as it would be in violation of the Article 4 of the European Convention.