Suspect in New Year’s Eve Attack on Istanbul Nightclub Captured Alive

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Suspect aught with his son in a raid in an Istanbul suburb.

The man authorities suspect of being behind the New Year’s Eve attack on an Istanbul nightclub has been captured alive, according to Turkish police sources.

The alleged attacker was caught with his son in a raid on the Esenyurt suburb of Istanbul, sources said.

Thirty-nine people were killed in the attack and dozens more were injured.

Authorities said the gunman fired 180 rounds of 7.62-mm bullets, which are commonly used in AK-47 assault rifles. The attacker also used flares to illuminate the inside of the nightclub during the attack, according to police.

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Police said they don’t believe the weapon used in the attack came from inside Turkey. The serial number on the weapon had been defaced. Read the rest of this entry »


Islamist Turkey Seizes All Christian Churches in City and Declares them ‘State Property’

A Turkish policeman stands guard outside a church
Nick Gutteridge reports: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken control of six churches in the war-torn southeastern city of Diyarbakir in his latest move to squash freedom of speech and religious movement.

“The government didn’t take over these pieces of property in order to protect them. They did so to acquire them.”

— Ahmet Guvener, pastor of Diyarbakir Protestant Church

The state-sanctioned seizure is just the latest in a number of worrying developments to come out of increasingly hardline Turkey, which is in advanced talks with the EU over visa-free travel for its 80 million citizens.

Included in the seizures are Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches, one of which is over 1,700 years old.

They have now effectively become state property – meaning they are run by the government – in a country with a dire human rights record where about 98 percent of the population is Muslim. 

President Erdogan

The order to seize the churches was made on March 25 by Erdogan’s council of ministers, according to the website World Watch Monitor.

[Read the full story here, at express.co.uk]

They claim it was made on the grounds that authorities intend to rebuild and restore the historical centre of the city, which has been partially destroyed by 10 months of urban conflict between government forces and militants from the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK).

But the seizures have outraged worshippers at the churches, who fear a government coup against their religion are now threatening to take legal action against the decision. Read the rest of this entry »

VICE Journalists Charged With Working for ‘Terrorists’ in Turkey

Turkish authorities on Monday charged three Western news reporters in southeastern Turkey with working for a “terrorist organization,” said their employer VICE News on Monday, days after the journalists’ detention caused an outcry among human rights groups.

“Today the Turkish government has leveled baseless and alarmingly false charges of ‘working on behalf of a terrorist organization’ against three VICE News reporters, in an attempt to intimidate and censor their coverage.”

— A spokesman for VICE

Jake Hanrahan, Philip Pendlebury, as well as a fixer and a driver were detained by the Turkish authorities while reportedly filming clashes between police and supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the province of Diyarbakir.

On Monday, they were charged in a Turkish court, VICE said. Read the rest of this entry »


Turkish Prosecutor Taken Hostage in Istanbul

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Members of the illegal left-wing organization the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party Front have broken into a Turkish prosecutor’s office and taken him hostage

Yael Klein writes: The prosecutor, Mehmet Selim Kiraz, was targeted by the organization because he represented the state in the sensitive case of a young man’s death during anti-government protests in 2013. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was the Turkish prime minister at the time of the protests, exercised a very strict policy against the protestors. The young man was killed after the police used excessive force against the demonstrators, and the organization has taken Kiraz hostage as an act of protest against Erdogan.

Special Forces surrounding the building Photo Credit: Reuters / Channel 2 News

Special Forces surrounding the building Photo Credit: Reuters / Channel 2 News

The Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front has issued a message in the social media, threatening to execute the prosecutor by 3:36 pm (local time) if its demands are not answered. The members of the organization demand that the police officers who caused the death of the young man in the 2013 protests confess to killing him on live television. Read the rest of this entry »


Spies in the Skies: Americans’ Cellphones Targeted in Secret U.S. Spy Program

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Fake Cellphone Towers on Planes Used to Target Criminals, but Also Sift Through Thousands of Other Phones

WASHINGTON—Devlin Barrett reports: The Justice Department is scooping up data from thousands of cellphones through fake communications towers deployed on airplanes, a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is snagging a large number of innocent Americans, according to people familiar with the operations.

“The program cuts out phone companies as an intermediary in searching for suspects. Rather than asking a company for cell-tower information to help locate a suspect, which law enforcement has criticized as slow and inaccurate, the government can now get that information itself.”

The U.S. Marshals Service program, which became fully functional around 2007, operates Cessna aircraft from at least five metropolitan-area airports, with a flying range covering most of the U.S. population, according to people familiar with the program.

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“Similar devices are used by U.S. military and intelligence officials operating in other countries, including in war zones, where they are sometimes used to locate terrorist suspects, according to people familiar with the work. In the U.S., these people said, the technology has been effective in catching suspected drug dealers and killers. They wouldn’t say which suspects were caught through this method.”

Planes are equipped with devices—some known as “dirtboxes” to law-enforcement officials because of the initials of the Boeing Co. unit that produces them—which mimic cell towers of large telecommunications firms and trick cellphones into reporting their unique registration information. Read the rest of this entry »