Indictment against Cumhuriyet journalists finalized on 156th day of arrest

İstanbul prosecutors have finally prepared an indictment against Cumhuriyet daily journalists and executives who were arrested in November in 2017 on charges of supporting several terrorist organizations.

There are 19 suspects mentioned in the indictment including arrested Cumhuriyet daily journalists and executives as well as former Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar, who left Turkey before a failed military coup attempt on July 15, and the owner of a popular Twitter account “JeansBiri.”

Nine journalists and executives from the Cumhuriyet daily, including its Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu, were arrested by the İstanbul 9th Penal Court of Peace on Nov.5.

Kadri Gürsel, Musa Kart, Güray Öz, Mustafa Kemal Güngör, Turhan Günay, Bülent Utku, Önder Çelik and Eser Sevinç from Cumhuriyet were arrested in addition to the paper’s editor-in-chief Sabuncu. Cumhuriyet daily’s chief executive officer, Akın Atalay, was detained at İstanbul Atatürk Airport upon his return from Germany and subsequently arrested on Nov.12.

Dündar, who is currently in Germany, is cited as the prime suspect in the indictment.

Cumhuriyet daily journalists face allegations of aiding the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), 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 Turkey’s autocratic 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 the failed coup attempt on July 15.

The popular Twitter user posting under the name “JeansBiri” was arrested on Nov.22 after 25 days in detention for starting a hashtag on the social media platform about a call from a pro- AKP figure for the arming of party members.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 2016 which killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the AKP government along with Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.

Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

According to a statement from Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on April 2, a total of 113,260 people have been detained as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since the July 15 coup attempt while 47,155 were put into pre-trial detention.

On Saturday Turkey attracted the attention of international journalism organizations after 21 journalists who had been in pre-trial detention for eight months and were to be released pending trial in İstanbul on Friday were arrested again early on Saturday without ever having been freed.

The number of journalists jailed in Turkey has reached 228, a new world record, as the massive crackdown on the free, independent and critical media by the authoritarian regime of Erdoğan shows no sign of abating any time soon, the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), a Stockholm-based monitoring and rights advocacy group, reported on Saturday. (SCF with April 4, 2017


Take a second to support Stockholm Center for Freedom on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!