Turkey: A trial where the ‘crime’ is journalism and the only ‘evidence’ is journalistic activities

Joint Statement on the Cumhuriyet trial: 28 media freedom and freedom of expression organisations call on the institutions of the Council of Europe and its member states to remind Turkey of its international obligation to respect and protect human rights. We, the undersigned freedom of expression and human rights organisations, strongly condemn last night’s guilty verdicts for staff and journalists of Cumhuriyet newspaper and note the harsh sentences for the defendants. The verdict further demonstrates that Turkey’s justice system and the rule of law is failing: this was a trial where the ‘crime’ was journalism and the only ‘evidence’ was…

Turkey: Cumhuriyet journalists and executives heavily convicted for changes in “editorial policy”

On Wednesday (25/05/2018), the court in Silivri (Turkey) severely convicted 13 journalists and executives from the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet to jail sentences between two to eight years. The court is convinced that editorial policy changes adopted by the newspaper were aimed at helping multiple illegal terrorist organisations in Turkey. All the defendants have been released pending the confirmation of the jail sentences by the upper court. The judge also ordered the release of Cumhuriyet chairman Akin Atalay who had been in jail for 532 days until yesterday. “As we always say they cannot intimidate Cumhuriyet newspaper which will continue to…

Turkey: Two Cumhuriyet journalists released, newspaper’s chairman still detained

On Friday 9 March, A Turkish court has released on bail two journalists who were held for over a year on terror-related charges. The editor-in-chief of the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper, Murat Sabuncu, and the investigative reporter, Ahmet Şık, were both released on bail but they remain charged while the chairman of the newspaper, Akin Atalay, was kept in detention. The staff from the newspaper were held as part of the crackdown that followed the failed coup of July 2016.  Based on articles published by the newspaper, Turkish authorities accuse Cumhuriyet of supporting the Gülen movement who Ankara believes headed the coup attempt, as well…

European Parliament resolution on the current human rights situation in Turkey

During the European Parliament plenary session (5-8 February 2018) in Strasbourg, MEPs voted a resolution on the current human rights situation in Turkey. The European Federation of Journalists welcomes the references to the fate of imprisoned journalists, to the specific cases of Deniz Yücel, Ayla Albayrak, Mehmet Altan, Sahin Alpay and Ahmet Sik, to the indictments of signatories of Academics for Peace, to the misuse of the state of emergency to silence dissent, to the chilling effect of the pressure on social media users expressing criticism against the military operation in Afrin. The full text of the resolution as adopted…

Turkey: Four Cumhuriyet journalists ordered to remain in prison

At a hearing on 25 December 2017, a Turkish judge ordered four journalists and senior staff from the newspaper Cumhuriyet to remain in prison for at least two more months during their trial. The newspaper’s editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, attorney Akin Atalay, correspondent Ahmet Şık and accountant Emre Iper, are charged with supporting through their coverage three outlawed groups: The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), and the Gülen network. They face up to 43 years in prison if convicted. The newspaper and staff have denied the charges, and argue that they are being targeted to silence…

13 organisations intervene on cases of detained Turkish journalists before the European Court of Human Rights

Leading freedom of expression organisations have submitted third-party interventions in ten cases against jailed Turkish journalists to which the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has given priority status. The interventions offer detailed legal analyses of the principles at stake in the cases of the detained journalists. The cases before the ECtHR concern the detention of journalists and board members from the Cumhuriyet newspaper, along with the cases of journalists Murat Aksoy, Şahin Alpay, Ahmet and Mehmet Altan, Ali Bulaç, Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak, Ahmet Şık, Deniz Yücel and Atilla Taş. The separate interventions include submissions from the Media Legal Defence Initiative, PEN International, ARTICLE 19, the…

Pre-trial detention extended for Cumhuriyet journalists despite clear demonstrations

The European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ-IFJ) condemn the court’s decision to maintain the five Cumhuriyet journalists and media workers in pre-trial detention, after a 13-hour long hearing at Silivri prison, on 11 September 2017. The court ordered their detention despite clear demonstration by the defendants’ lawyers that the accusations of “without being a member of that organisation, spreading propaganda on behalf of an illegal terrorist organisation” were completely baseless. An international delegation including the EFJ-IFJ, IPI, PEN International, Norsk PEN, PEN Vlaanderen, RSF, foreign consulate representatives, foreign press correspondents and MEP Rebecca Harms has attended the hearing and shared solidarity…

Turkish court frees seven jailed journalists

The trial, which began on Monday 24 July, involved 17 Cumhuriyet journalists and executives wrongfully accused of secretly supporting the PKK – a militant Kurdish organisation and FETO, the group allegedly responsible for last year’s failed coup. The Cumhuriyet employees on trial are editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, columnist Kadri Gürsel, CEO Akin Atalay, printing administrator Önder Çelik, attorney Bülent Utku, cartoonist Musa Kart, columnist Hakan Karasinir, attorney Mustafa Kemal Güngör, reporter Ahmet Şık, editor Turhan Günay, columnist Güray Öz, columnist Hikmet Aslan Çetinkaya, former editor-in-chief Can Dündar, columnist Aydin Engin, financial manager Bülent Yener, accounting manager Günseli Özaltay and columnist Orhan…

Turkey: Press freedom on trial

The EFJ is closely following the proceedings that started on Monday 24 July in Istanbul against 17 prominent journalists, editors and board members of Cumhuriyet newspaper, including Can Dündar, Kadri Gürsel, Murat Sabuncu and Ahmet Şık. EFJ president Mogens Blicher Bjerregård participated in the court case on 24-25 July and met several journalists and EFJ affiliates. Below a personal account of his impressions: Press freedom must be protected, and not put on trial as it has happened this week in Istanbul with the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet. 17 journalists and executives are accused in a completely political and fabricated way for…

Turkey: Cumhuriyet journalists face trial on 24 July

The trial involving 17 journalists and executives of Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet will start on Monday 24 July at 9:00am in Istanbul’s Çağlayan Justice Palace. The trial is expected to continue until Thursday 28 July. The International and European Federation of Journalists (IFJ and EFJ) join their affiliates TGS and DISK Basin-Is  in condemning the trial which is based on unfounded accusations that the paper is secretly supporting the PKK – a militant Kurdish organisation and FETO, the group allegedly responsible for last year’s failed coup. EFJ president Mogens Blicher Bjerregård will be present at the trial on behalf of both…

Oguz Güven, Cumhuriyet online editor-in-chief, arrested for a temporary tweet

On 16 May 2017, the EFJ-IFJ and partner organisations submitted the following alert to the Council of Europe’s platform for the safety and protection of journalists : On 12 May 2017, Oğuz Güven, editor-in-chief of the online edition of the daily newspaper Cumhuriyet, was detained as part of a criminal investigation led by the Bureau of Press Offences of the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in Istanbul. On 15 May, Güven appeared before a judge, who ordered that he be held in pre-trial detention, on “propaganda for a terrorist organisation” and “defamation against a person’s memory” charges. Both charges against the…

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