EP’s Harms to travel to Turkey to monitor trial of Cumhuriyet journalists

Rebecca Harms

Rebecca Harms, a member of the European Parliament and co-chair of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, will be in İstanbul from July 23 to 25 to monitor the trial of journalists from the Cumhuriyet daily, according to a press statement from Harms’ office on Wednesday.

The trial of the Cumhuriyet journalists will begin on Monday.

Seventeen Cumhuriyet journalists, executives and lawyers, 11 of whom have been in pre-trial detention since November 2016, face allegations of aiding the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) and “FETÖ.”

“FETÖ” is a derogatory term and acronym for the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization,” coined by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to refer to the Gülen movement, which Erdoğan and the AKP accuse of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The movement strongly denies the accusation.

Eleven journalists and executives from Cumhuriyet, including its Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu, were arrested on terror charges by the İstanbul 9th Penal Court of Peace last November.

In June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) asked Turkey to submit a defense in the case against the jailed Cumhuriyet daily journalists, telling the AKP government to provide a written defense by Oct. 2.

According to the ECtHR, the journalists and executives complained about their pre-trial detention and its duration, and also claimed that there had been a breach of their freedom of expression. They further alleged that their detention was a sanction against them for criticizing the government and amounted to politically motivated judicial harassment.

In April, the ECtHR agreed to give priority to the cases of the arrested Cumhuriyet journalists and executives, asking Turkey to provide the reasons for jailing them.

The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has also documented that 264 journalists are now in jails as of July 18, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 240 are arrested pending trial, only 24 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 109 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt. (SCF with turkishminute.com) July 20, 2017

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