On Dec. 22, 90 intellectuals from Turkey issued a notice inviting the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government to turn back from the "dangerous path it entered." The "dangerous path" they mentioned meant moving away from democracy and leading into authoritarianism. The declaration said, "The government had hundreds of journalists and columnists dismissed with the pressure it exerted," condemning the detention and questioning of managers and staff of the Gülen Movement-affiliated Zaman daily and Samanyolu TV on Dec. 14. It also asserted that the government "desired to completely silence critical media" and, furthermore, it tried to "finish journalism as a profession."
When you look at the signature list, it is possible to see a number of figures who are not only popular in the country, but also abroad. It would be expected that nobody would be skeptical of the respectability of the list and this call would make a tremendous impression. Even though 15 days have elapsed since the notice was issued, the number of signatories hardly reached 3,000. However, in a country where freedom of the press is disregarded, society would be expected to embrace it more keenly. While reporting the notice as a piece of news, Zaman daily noted, "The Dec. 14 operation, which is considered a coup against media and democracy in the eyes of the public, stirred up all segments of society, especially journalists, writers and academics."
But the outcome was not as expected. The reaction of intellectuals, some "world renowned," deflated like a leaking balloon. One of the reasons for this could be that the text was really too exaggerated for any prudent person living in Turkey, since investigations and detentions were based on slander and propaganda that was imposed on a Muş-based small congregation by the Gülen Movement a few years ago and this became the issue of a counterclaim. Thirty-eight people were unjustly held in prison for up to 17 months and they filed a complaint against those who victimized them. According to the case document, the incident began when Fethullah Gülen pointed to this group by name and it was triggered with an anonymous notification letter. The case document also put forth that Zaman and Samanyolu TV published a series of unfounded news within that short period of time. In short, detentions were not surprising. Moreover, only four people were arrested and three of them police officers. The arrested manager of Samanyolu Broadcasting Group was not a journalist and according to what scriptwriters said, he had a television series from Samanyolu TV include scenes that revealed a defamation campaign with real names. It was obvious that these detentions had nothing to do with the freedom of the press. Almost everyone must have found this declaration of intellectuals a bit "strange," as it did not look normal that the signatories were unfamiliar with these realities.
However, a close scrutiny of the signatories divulged another reality and accounted for this oddity. Twenty out of 90 signatories were managers or writers for media outlets affiliated with the movement. Most probably, the text was written by some of these people or a "neutral" person on the list. Frankly speaking, the Gülen Movement tried to use 70 intellectuals as political leverage and wanted to take advantage of their political influence. They had a full page version of the text in their newspaper and had other expedient newspapers publish it by financing them. These 70 figures on the list, either consciously or unconsciously, formed strategic alliance with the Gülen Movement. They thought they raised a principal objection, but they presented themselves as an instrument to illegitimate politics.