Court accepts 274-page indictment into journalists, executives of Cumhuriyet daily

An İstanbul court accepted the 274-page indictment into columnists and executives of Cumhuriyet daily on Tuesday, nearly five months after the investigation was launched, with the prosecutor seeking jail sentences for all 19 suspects, 12 of whom are in prison. The first hearing of the case will be held on July 24 at Istanbul’s Çağlayan courthouse and will continue until July 27.

The indictment, accepted by the İstanbul 27th Heavy Penal Court, named the former editor-in-chief of the daily, Can Dündar, as the prime suspect. The charges directed at the suspects include “membership of an armed terrorist organization” and “helping an armed terrorist organization while not being a member of it.”

Prosecutors are seeking between 7.5 and 15 years in prison sentence for Dündar, editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, IPI Board Member Kadri Gürsel, Aydın Engin, Bülent Yener and Günseli Özaltay for “helping an armed terrorist organization while not being a member.” The prosecutor has also sought between 7.5 and 15 years in prison for journalist Ahmet Şık for “helping and being a member of the PKK and the DHKP/C.”

The indictment stated that “Upon Can Dündar assuming his post, the daily entered another path diverting from the aims of its establishment… It became a defender and protector of [FETÖ/PDY, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party/ Kurdistan Communities Union (PKK/KCK) and the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C)].”

According to the indictment, Cumhuriyet “tried to legitimize the acts of the PKK terrorist organization.” The indictment also noted that some of the suspects “had contact with users” of the ByLock smartphone application, which came to prominence after authorities alleged that Gülen movement widely used it to communicate.

Turkey is the worst jailer of journalists and media workers in the world. SCF has recently announced the number of journalists behind bars reached to a new record with currently 231 languishing in Turkish jails, most without a trial and convictions.

Of these journalists, 210 are arrested pending trial and without a conviction. Most of the journalists do not even know what the charges are or what evidence, if any, the government has because the indictments were not filed yet. Also 100 journalists are wanted and 839 have been charged in Turkey.

April 18, 2017

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