Journalists and executives of Turkey's Cumhuriyet appear before court for the first time

BİRGÜN DAİLY 24.07.2017 11:42
Journalists and executives of Turkey's Cumhuriyet appear before court for the first time
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UĞUR ŞAHİN / @uugurs

After their 267 days long detention over accusations of doing ‘propaganda of FETÖ, DHKP-C, and PKK’, the arrested journalists, executives, and lawyers of Turkey’s one of the most leading opposition newspapers – Cumhuriyet - will appear before court for the first time on Monday (July 24). The hearing of the case that involves 19 suspects will be held in İstanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse, at 27th Heavy Penal Court. The trial comes 9 months after the Cumhuriyet newspapers’ executives and teams were arrested; and, 3 months after the indictment was completed. Expected to be monitored by many national and international groups and individuals, the trial will last for four days.

Accusation of terror propaganda

The indictment was prepared 156 days the detentions. Signed by deputy chief public prosecutor Mehmet Akif Ekinci and public prosecutor Yasemin Baba, the indictment claimed that the Cumhuriyet newspaper – which was established with the command of the Republic’s founding president Atatürk in 1924 – has gone through changes that ‘stand against its almost a century old history and against it founding principles and philosophies’. “As the suspect Can Dündar took over the management of the newspaper, the publication deviated from its objectives and began to lead a different path”, said the indictment, where the newspaper is claimed to have been seized by ‘FETO’ (Fethullahist Terrorist Organization).

‘Reports of Cumhuriyet newspaper have gone beyond being a practice of rights to publish heavy criticism and comments allowed under press freedom principles and universal laws and they rather paved the way for illegal politics and for targeting of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in assymetric war methods’, the prosecutors wrote in the indictment.

When the prosecutor Murat İnam who was initially handling the case was found out to be a suspect of an investigation into FETÖ himself, justice minister at the time, Bekir Bozdağ, had said ‘it was an unfortunate coincidence’.

Wife of Kadri Gürsel: 'I want to be able to say there are still judges and prosecutors in Turkey'

Talking to BirGün, the wife of detained journalist Kadri Gürsel, Nazire Gürsel, and among the lawyers of the newspaper, Abbas Yalçın, commented on one of the most significant legal probings in the country.

Nazire Gürsel said, “After the 9 months long time period, I want to be able to say ‘there are judges and prosecutors’ in Turkey. Because as the detained journalists and their families, we are not the only ones who have been paying the price of these 9 months. After the detentions of Cumhuriyet members, Turkey’s problems have multiplied in all fields. Because, this is a symbolic case. When you accept being a country which imprisons people without any interrogation or questioning, an erosion of quality emerges everywhere... I think that the decision that will be given in the case of Cumhuriyet will determine the destiny of Turkey”.

Lawyer Yalçın: 'This case was filed to intimidate all opposition forces'

Lawyer Abbas Yalçın underlined that the files of the case are ‘full of unlawfulness’ and added that the detention of the Cumhuriyet’s journalists and executives was a message of intimidation given not only to members of Cumhuriyet but a message to all opposition forces.

“With a confidentiality and restrictions order, the right of our clients to know what they are being accused of had been taken away. The right of us – as lawyers – to access the files and have the chance to defend our clients faily had also been taken away. It was a very harsh and cruel practice. A 9 months long period which is unlawful entirely has been gone throguh. They (the suspects) will appear before the court for the first time; we are all ready”, he said.

Leader of Britain's Labor Party sends a message of solidarity

Leader of Britain’s Labor Party, Jeremy Corbyn, also extended a message in solidarity with the detained journalists in Turkey. Talking to Turkey’s one of the leading opposition newspapers, Evrensel, former journalist Corbyn stated that he will continue being in solidarity and help those working for the release of detained journalists in Turkey. When sharing his message of solidarity, Corbyn appeared in a photo with holding a t-shirt that had detained journalist Ahmet Şık’s picture and that said ‘freedom to truth’.

Front-page article of BirGün published on 24 July 2017, Monday with the headline of 'They cannot destroy Cumhuriyet'

(The Turkish word Cumhuriyet means 'republic')


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