The latest authoritarian escapade took place on Sunday night, when policemen stormed Belge Publishing’s offices in Istanbul and occupied it for close to three hours. They ended up confiscating thousands of books—including most, if not all, of the publisher’s back catalogue—and only released Mehmet Ali Varis after questioning. Their actions were motivated by the Belge’s alleged links to the far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C).
The independent publisher was founded in 1977 by Ragıp and Ayşe Zarakolu and has had a history of pushing political books—cutting their reputation in the aftermath of the 1980 coup, when they published a series of 35 works written by political prisoners. They have since published books such as Stateless Kurds, Decisions Tougher than Death and—most recently—The unwritten memoirs of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a satire on the life of Turkey’s president.
Ragıp Zarakolu had also been detained between October 2011 and April 2012.