Daily Sabah, who has offices in the headquarters of its parent company Turkuvaz Medya, was among the targets of pro-coup officers bent on silencing the free media on July 15. On Friday, prosecutors wrapped up an indictment on 14 soldiers who planned and carried out attacks against Turkuvaz on the night of the attempted coup.
A death-defying public stood in the way of heavily armed troops, blocking them and those trying to attack the main building of Daily Sabah’s sister company, A Haber. Fast forward just a few hours after that and most of the officers that took part in the botched coup, which is being blamed on the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), had either been detained or had fled.
Prosecutor Orhan Aydın’s indictment on the 14 pro-coup soldiers, including two high-ranking officers, requests three instances of life imprisonment from the court. The trial for the defendants will start after the court accepts the indictment.
Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Mehmet Nail Yiğit, commander of the military unit, who orchestrated the attack, remains at large.
Pro-coup troops stationed at a now-closed military base left for Turkuvaz Medya shortly before midnight on July 15. Turkuvaz was likely targeted because of its staunch stance against FETÖ and for its support to the elected administration.
As a convoy of armored vehicles carrying pro-coup troops approached, a brave crowd that had gathered in front of Turkuvaz’s headquarters after learning of the unfolding coup attempt, blocked them from entering the building. The first batch of pro-coup troops arrived just past midnight, opening fire at the building before trying to storm it.
Unable to advance, the soldiers abandoned the convoy and escaped by hijacking a bus after firing into the air to disperse the angry crowd. A little while later, another group of soldiers also managed to reach the street where the Turkuvaz headquarters is located.
Nevertheless, an anti-coup group of civilians had already converged outside the building and blocked them as well. More pro-coup troops arrived later and when they failed to raid the building due to the large crowd that had convened outside, they fired into the sky and at the windows of the building in an attempt to intimidate the crowd. Fortunately, none of the night shift employees in the building at the time of the attack were injured.
Prosecutors have called on the court to sentence the suspects to life imprisonment for their roles in the coup attempt, in addition to lesser sentences for other crimes they committed on the coup night, such as property damage.
The coup attempt was foiled thanks to strong public resistance which followed the calls of the president and the prime minister, but 248 people were killed in the process. Along with Turkuvaz Medya, other major media companies, including the country’s public broadcaster TRT, were among the targets of pro-coup troops.
Coup soldiers even managed to hijack a TRT broadcast for a short while and forced a terrified TV presenter to read the declaration of their so-called “Peace At Home Council.” Again, crowds that were heeding the calls from Ankara responded and helped understaffed police and anti-coup soldiers take back TRT. The Sabah newspaper, the sister company of Daily Sabah and A Haber, manage to stay online and provide valuable information for people who were standing against the putsch.
FETÖ, which pursued a campaign to topple the government since its first two attempts in 2013 by implicating opposing government officials in false cases on trumped-up charges, has long been critically covered by Daily Sabah and its sister newspapers.
Though FETÖ is known for its widespread infiltration into the judiciary, military and police, it was the first time it directly resorted to the use of force to seize power, with military officers loyal to the cult. Its leader Fetullah Gülen is wanted for his role in the coup attempt as he is accused of overseeing plans for the attempted military coup. He faces multiple life sentences in a series of cases related to the coup attempt.