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Berlin does not recognize Gülen movement as ‘terrorist’ group,German Ambassador

ANKARA(Turkey):German Ambassador to Turkey Martin Erdmann has said his country’s judiciary does not recognize the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization and that Turkey should present credible evidence of criminal activity to Germany for the extradition of Gülen-linked individuals.

Speaking to CNN Türk’s Hakan Çelik for an interview over the weekend, Erdmann said Germany recognizes the terrorist threats against Turkey but that there is a problem between Turkey and Germany regarding how they perceive the Gülen movement.

The Turkish government, which accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, refers to the group as a terrorist organization. The movement, inspired by the views of Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, strongly denies any involvement in the coup attempt.

Turkey has been seeking the extradition of Gülen-linked figures from Germany as many people from the movement have sought asylum there to escape political persecution in Turkey.

Erdmann said the German judiciary can take action only if Turkey presents documents and information showing a particular Gülen-linked person’s involvement in criminal activity.

When Çelik asked Erdmann why he refers to the group as the Gülen movement and not as FETÖ, a derogatory term coined by the Turkish government to refer to the Gülen movement as a terror organization, Erdmann said it is impossible for him to refer to the group as such because the German judiciary does not recognize it as a terror group.

Erdmann said he can only use expressions that are valid from the perspective of the German judiciary. He said the Gülen movement is very active in social and cultural areas in Germany and runs schools there.


70,000 students behind bars in Turkey

ANKARA(Turkey):A total of 70,000 students who have either been convicted of a crime or are in pretrial detention are currently in Turkey’s jails, while more than 100,000 students are facing trial, according to a story in the Cumhuriyet daily on Tuesday.

When students are arrested, they are first suspended from school and if convicted, they are expelled. If these students take the university entrance exams while in jail and are successful, they are given the right to freeze enrollment for two years.

An academic who follows the trials of students in jail and who requested anonymity told Cumhuriyet that most of the students are tried in high criminal courts and are thus given long prison sentences.

“Even if they are given the minimum sentence, it starts at five years. In the trials I have followed, there are students who were given nine-and-a-half years, 12 years and 16 years, and some of these sentences were approved by the Supreme Court of Appeals,” said the academic.

When asked about the charges the students face, the academic said they are more or less the same and politically motivated.

Recalling the recent arrests of nine students from Boğaziçi University on terror charges for opposing an ongoing Turkish military operation in the Afrin region of Syria, the academic said many students are jailed for being against war.

On March 19 a group of students at Boğaziçi University protested other students who had set up a stand and distributed Turkish delight in memory of Turkish soldiers killed during the operation in Afrin. Police identified the protestors and detained 15 of them in separate operations. Nine of the students were arrested, while six of them were released on judicial probation on April 3.

In a speech on March 21, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan targeted the Boğaziçi students who were involved in the Afrin protest and described them as “communists, traitors and terrorists” while he called the youths who had set up stands for slain soldiers “believers, local and national.”


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4 journalists from pro-Kurdish daily arrested on terror charges

ANKARA(Turkey):A Turkish court on Tuesday ruled to arrest three editors and one media worker from the pro-Kurdish Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspaper, which was seized by the Turkish government in late March on the grounds that it has links to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Özgürlükçü Demokrasi is the successor of the Özgür Gündem newspaper, which was closed down by the government in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

On March 28, the headquarters of Özgürlükçü Demokrasi in the Beyoğlu district of İstanbul and its printing house were raided and searched by police teams upon an order from the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. Twenty-two employees of the daily were detained, and 20 were subsequently arrested.

Seven others from the daily were detained in another police operation on April 7.

Of them, editors Mehmet Ali Çelebi, Reyhan Hacıoğlu and Hicran Urun, and media worker Pınar Tarlak, were arrested on Tuesday on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.

The remaining three were released on judicial probation.

Since the coup attempt, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has taken over or closed down hundreds of media outlets in the country including Turkey’s best-selling newspaper, Zaman, and has jailed around 200 journalists due to their critical views.

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Israel buying Kurdish oil shipped via Turkey in ‘disappearing’ tankers,Report

ANKARA(turkey):Israel is secretly buying oil from Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq through the Turkish port of Ceyhan, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported, citing an article by Ellen Wald in the Cairo Review of Global Affairs.

Haaretz describes an unusual situation observed in November by Samir Madani, a Kuwaiti oil trader living in Sweden who created the website, involving the Valtamed oil tanker heading to the Suez Canal from Turkey’s port of Ceyhan, which is supplied by the oil pipeline from the Kurdish area of northern Iraq. The tanker suddenly stopped somewhere in the eastern Mediterranean, off Tel Aviv but outside Israel’s territorial borders, turned off its identification transponder and “resurfaced” a few days later, mysteriously lighter than when it had left Ceyhan.

The Valtamed then sailed to Cyprus and returned to its home base in Turkey, loaded up on oil that had arrived from northern Iraq and repeated the whole journey, including the disappearing act.

“His conclusion was that the Valtamed had been shipping oil that wasn’t recorded anywhere to a country that wasn’t supposed to buy it – in other words, Israel was secretly buying Kurdish oil through Turkey,” according to Haaretz.

Oil was officially discovered in northern Iraq’s Baba Gurgur area in 1927, one of the world’s largest fields, but Kurdish oil needs to be refined and reach the sea, which has been accomplished for years by a pipeline running from Kirkuk to Ceyhan.

After the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) held an independence referendum in 2017 that was condemned by the central Iraqi government, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to impose a blockade on the oil, halting the KRG’s primary source of income and stifling the Kurdish economy by refusing to load the KRG’s oil into tankers at Ceyhan. But to the surprise of many, Erdoğan did no such thing, and Kurdish oil continued to flow unimpeded through Turkey to customers mainly in Greece, Israel, Poland, Cyprus and Croatia. The Iraqi government subsequently took over control of Kirkuk’s oil in a military action supported by Iranian-backed Shia militia.

In another incident, reports Haaretz, “TankerTrackers says a tanker called Kriti Diamond tends to suddenly assume a new identity – Kiton – offload oil in Israel and then resume its original identity before sailing back to Turkey. ‘It is with great pride that we present you the missing KRITI DIAMOND, currently operating under her new pseudonym: KITON,’ the site tweeted on February 16.Four days later, it was followed by another tweet: ‘The MARIKA/KRITI DIAMOND forgot to take off her disguise as KITON after leaving Ashkelon empty’.”

Tanker Trackers noticed that another crude oil tanker, the Mabrouk, left Ceyhan, assumed the disguise of Maro – an unknown, unregistered identity – near the Israeli shore, disappeared for a few days and then popped up again as the Mabrouk, said Haaretz.

When asked by the daily for a response, Oil Refineries in Haifa and the Trans-Israel Pipeline company said they do not comment on commercial matters.

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