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Turkey’s “Independent” Judiciary

Turkey’s “Independent” Judiciary

The phrase, on the one hand, sounds like an oxymoron, if one has a serious mind about Turkish politics.

It would reflexively encourage hundreds of thousands of Turks who have been victimised by “political verdicts” to curse loudly with the selection of the most unpleasant vocabulary. All the same it can also be used as a new indigenous Turkish weapon against our foreign enemies: Just repeat the phrase and, in a fire-and-forget fashion, expect your enemies suffer potentially fatal laughter spasms.

Turkey’s independent judiciary… Much like the Luxembourgian navy, or Saudi Kingdom’s civil liberties authority. Syrian Peace Corps? North Korean political opposition. Yemeni Overseas Aid Agency. You name it.

In a recent speech, Devlet Bahçeli, the ultra-nationalist leader and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s former foe-turned-staunch-ally, proposed a deal to end the Turkish-American diplomatic crisis over the Pastor Brunson affair: Give us back [Fethullah Gülen] and take the pastor in return. This deal, Mr Bahçeli said, could easily be instrumented in a Cold War era “spy exchange” fashion.

That reminded everyone of the release from jail of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel. Mr Yücel had been kept in gaol for months but was later released after [then] Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım told reporters on his way to Berlin that “he expected a solution.”

Turkey’s independent judiciary…

More recently, in an interview with ABC News, Jay Sekulow, attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, said:

“The president was successful in negotiating what I call phase one. Brunson was in jail, George, as you know, and Turkey has been very difficult for religious minorities … This pastor had been there for 23 years, was put in jail — was in jail for 21 months and the actual charge, George, in the indictment from the Turkish officials said Christianization. This was literally the charge they said. They said this was a violation of their [law] like espionage and spying. The president has been very aggressive securing his release. We have obtained his release from jail. He’s been returned to what we would consider a house arrest in his apartment in Izmir, Turkey. Having said that, the ultimate victory here is the return of Andrew Brunson to his country of origin which is the United States.”

So:

  • The U.S. president was negotiating [no need to guess, with his Turkish counterpart] what Mr Trump’s attorney calls “phase one,”
  • The U.S. president has been very aggressive securing Pastor Brunson’s release. And he was released to house arrest,
  • “We” in the words of the attorney, or the United States, has obtained Mr Brunson’s release from jail,
  • The ultimate American victory “here” is Mr Brunson’s ultimate return to his home country, America.

How wonderful that Turkey is NOT a banana republic and its judiciary is totally independent. Just in case, though, an unimportant suggestion to those other countries with totally independent judiciaries – countries that may have diplomatic crises with the rising empire that is Turkey: Keep a reasonable stock of Turkish prisoners, preferably important Turkish men, whom you can release after negotiations with Ankara in return for a favour or just the release of one of your prisoners.

About The Author

Burak Bekdil

Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based Turkish political columnist who wrote for Hurriyet Daily News [formerly Turkish Daily News] for 29 years. He has covered Turkey for the U.S. weekly Defense News since 1997. Previously, Bekdil worked as Ankara Bureau Chief for Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC-e television. He contributes to annual national defense sector reviews for anti-corruption institutions like Transparency International and Global Integrity. Bekdil is a fellow at the Middle East Forum and regularly writes for the Gatestone Institute and Middle East Quarterly. He also contributes to Perspectives, a journal of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv. James Cuno, art historian and President of the J. Paul Getty Trust, describes Bekdil as "a frequent critic of Prime Minister [now president] Recep Tayyip Erdogan." In 2001, a Heavy Crimes Court in Ankara sentenced Bekdil to a suspended, 20-month prison sentence for his column in which he satirized corruption in the judiciary. Bekdil's comments, quotes and articles have been published in international media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, BBC, The Guardian, Reuters, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Los Angeles Times, The Commentator, New York Times, Kathimerini, National Review Online, Algemeiner, NPR, Washington Times, Die Presse, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, Toronto Star, Financial Times, Al-Monitor, Le Figaro, ABC, El Pais, Stern, Al-Arabiya, Helsingin Sanomat, Racjonalista, Defence Greece, Moyen-Orient, Courier International, ISN Security Watch and Coloquio (of Congreso Judio Latinoamerico) and the Jewish Chronicle (London). (Born: Ankara, 1966; Undergraduate: Department of Economics, Middle East Technical University, Ankara; Post-graduate: Department of Economics, University of Surrey, United Kingdom)

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