Cumhuriyet journalists return to jail to serve their time

Several journalists and media staff who received prison sentences in a trial involving the Cumhuriyet newspaper arrived at the Kocaeli Courthouse on Thursday to start serving their time, Turkish media reported.

Önder Çelik, Musa Kart, M.Kemal Güngör, Hakan Kara, Güray Öz and Emre İper were later  put in Kandıra Prison after the court ruled the execution of their sentences.

The Cumhuriyet trial concluded with a total of 18 defendants, journalists as well as media executives and staff, being handed down various prison sentences.

The upholding of the sentences in February meant that those who received more than five years would be able to lodge an appeal with a higher court, while the eight who received shorter sentences would have no more remedies and would have to start serving their time.

A press freedom report by the Council of Europe recently qualified Turkey as the world’s largest jailer of journalists.

The country was also ranked 157th out of 180 countries in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders.

The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 191 journalists and media workers were in jail as of April 22, 2019, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 95 were under arrest pending trial while 96 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 167 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

The government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after  a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. (SCF with

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