An İstanbul court has ruled to strip journalist Ekrem Dumanlı and former prosecutor Zekeriya Öz, defendants in the murder case of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, of their assets on the grounds that “conditions have arisen to declare them as fugitives,” local media reported on Wednesday.
The 52-year-old Dink, editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian bilingual Agos weekly, was shot dead with two bullets to the head outside the newspaper’s headquarters in central İstanbul on January 19, 2007 by a then-17-year-old jobless high-school dropout.
The İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court previously ruled that the journalist’s murder was committed “in line with the objectives of FETÖ” –- a derogatory term used by the Turkish government to refer to the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization.
The Gülen movement is a faith-based group that focuses on science education, volunteerism, community involvement, social work and interfaith and intercultural dialogue. It is inspired by the teachings of Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen.
The court, which had also ruled to seize the assets of Gülen and 10 other defendants as part of the same case, on Wednesday ordered the seizure of Dumanlı and Öz’s assets.
For years, prosecutors have looked into alleged links between the suspects and Gülen, who is accused of masterminding a failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2016, although he strongly denies the charges.
The Turkish government’s ongoing crackdown on the Gülen movement was launched following corruption investigations in late 2013 that implicated Erdoğan’s close circle and culminated in the aftermath of a failed coup on July 15, 2016.
Although both Gülen and his followers deny any involvement in the abortive putsch and in any terrorist activity, a total of 622,646 people have been investigated and 301,932 have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the group since the failed coup, according to the latest Interior Ministry data. The data further show that there are currently 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged links to the faith-based movement.