Is spying an issue of freedom of speech?

Published 18.12.2014 01:53

The recent investigations by the Turkish judiciary regarding the "Parallel Structure," as it is widely called now, have created an outcry from Gülenist journalists and media representatives. That was to be expected. The Gülen movement, despite having suffered a very important setback after Dec. 17 2013, still has important sources of information in the police force and, to some extent, the judiciary. This is how they leaked information of a forthcoming investigation wave on social media.

Even before an investigation has begun, the mass media supporting the Gülen Movement has started a campaign of self-pity, picturing themselves as potential victims of the government's hatred. Anybody who has witnessed the incredible hatred shown by these very journalists and mass media organs during the Sledgehammer and Ergenekon cases can understand their panic. The Gülen Movement thought the same kind of biased trial process was staged against itself, which understandably panicked them beyond measure.

The thing is that the judiciary in Turkey functions much better and much more impartially than a couple of years ago. In any case, a judicial investigation was decided by a prosecutor as a "neutral" act. Unless definitely proven guilty, nobody can be accused of being sued or investigated. Still, the whole investigation operation has been heralded as a giant crackdown of the media that supports the Gülen Movement.

This propaganda has reached heights that nobody expected, resulting in a harsh and immediate barrage of fire made up of declarations. The spark has ignited an anti-Turkey wave among the EU countries' different circles and movements, who are mainly hostile to any Turkish entry into the EU. The Freedom Hose has issued an opinion, from Nate Schenkkan, which will clearly no doubt condemn Turkish-EU relations to an irreversible halt. Such rhetoric was mainly used by extreme right-wing parties or movements, up until today, to reject Turkey's move into Europe. The fact that a simple investigation has created such an upheaval shows their determination and the organization of Turkey's opponents in the international mass media.

The reaction of the government has been direct, which is a pity because our institutional ties and relationship with the EU was back on the right track after the recent visit of European Commission representatives and the Italian Presidency. It would be unwise to think that a single incident can derail a long and deep relationship; however the EU would be well advised to adopt a very cautious stance at this juncture.

Why so? For a simple reason: What is at stake is not the freedom of expression in Turkey. Such freedom largely exists, just a slight examination of a number of periodicals and dailies in Turkey would give sufficient prove that a very lively and diverse debate is going on, sometimes going beyond the acceptable rules of decency. But there is another very striking issue: The "Parallel Structure" is a very dangerous organization that did not hesitate to spy on the Premier, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, his Undersecretary of State and the Director of Turkish Intelligence Services, to later leak secret and sensitive discussions onto social media. Such attempts targeted the basic national security concerns of Turkey and cannot be tolerated more than what Kim Philby did in his time with the British Intelligence Service. After the first moments of reciprocal accusations formulated in harsh words, both Turkey and the EU should come to better terms of understanding, for the sake of democracy and stability.

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