Alican Uludag, a journalist with Turkey's opposition Cumhuriyet daily, has no doubt that the group exists. His research has shown that the Pelican group pulled the strings during the arrests and censorship surrounding OdaTV, he said. "Journalists working for Pelican have publicly welcomed and supported the arrests, and OdaTV has for years been reporting on the re-structuring of the Turkish justice system initiated by Pelican."

Uludag said he assumes a network of Pelican members has infiltrated the judiciary, adding that Erdogan's lawyers personally told him as much. "Apart from political influence, little is known about the group's financial flows. If this aspect is uncovered, it is likely a major criminal organisation will emerge," the journalist believes.

Reminiscent of Gulen movement

Along with 44 fellow lawyers, Istanbul Bar Association President Mehmet Durakoglu protested against the arrest of OdaTV journalists and signed a joint declaration against political meddling. The lawyer was cautious about the alleged influence of the Pelican group, however, saying he could not confirm its existence. There is obviously some kind of power struggle between different groups going on within the judiciary, only a blind man would not see that, he said, but declined to name names.

Journalist Alican Uludag (photo: private)
Journalist Alican Uludag, from the opposition Cumhuriyet daily, believes that the Pelican group pulled the strings during the arrests and censorship surrounding OdaTV, he said. "Journalists working for Pelican have publicly welcomed and supported the arrests, and OdaTV has for years been reporting on the re-structuring of the Turkish justice system initiated by Pelican"

Should it transpire that Pelican does indeed exist, this would cause similar problems for the independence of the judiciary as the influence of the Gulen movement did previously.

The religious group, led by Fethullah Gulen, was once very close to the Turkish government and judiciary, in particular to the president.

Today, Gulen and Erdogan are embittered opponents, and Turkey lists the movement as a terrorist organisation. "There was an outcry back then," said Durakoglu, adding it is necessary to point out, once again, the same danger.

Back in mid-February, the Turkish public was already speculating about Pelican influence in the Kavala case. The entrepreneur and patron of culture Osman Kavala was accused of having been an organiser of the Gezi Park protests in 2013. After years in custody, he was surprisingly acquitted in February due to lack of evidence.

Back in mid-February, the Turkish public was already speculating about Pelican influence in the Kavala case. The entrepreneur and patron of culture Osman Kavala was accused of having been an organiser of the Gezi Park protests in 2013. After years in custody, he was surprisingly acquitted in February due to lack of evidence.

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