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…

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…

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…

Cumhuriyet trial in Turkey: “This case is about criminalizing journalism”

The president of the European Federation of Journalists Mogens Blicher Bjerregård is attending today in Istanbul the opening of the trial of 17 journalists and executives at Turkish opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet.  “Journalism is not a crime,” chanted several hundred people gathered outside the central Istanbul court to protest against the prosecution of journalists, executives and lawyers of Cumhuriyet. “You can really feel the solidarity present in the courtroom,” said Mogens Blicher Bjerregård. “Let’s hope for justice.” On the behalf of the international support group attending the trial, Steven M. Ellis, from the International Press Institute, delivered the following statement, in front…

New wave of arrests targeting daily Cumhuriyet in Turkey

UPDATE 05.11.2016 – The Turkish court sent this morning 9 executives and columnists of Cumhuriyet newspaper to prison : Murat Sabuncu, Kadri Gürsel, Musa Kart, GürayÖz, Mustafa Kemal Güngör, Turhan Günay, Hakan Kara, Önder Çelik and Bülent Utku. All 9 @cumhuriyetgzt journos jailed in #Turkey We denounce these political decision with strong indignation #FreeTurkeyJournos #FreeKadri — Erol Önderoglu (@ErolOnderoglu) November 5, 2016 The European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ/IFJ) today condemned the new wave of media repression by Turkish authorities following the detention of Murat Sabuncu, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Cumhuriyet, arrested this morning together with 15 other media staff of the newspaper. They are accused of assisting the so-called Fethullahist…

Press freedom must be a part of any agreement with Turkey

The European Federation of Journalist (EFJ) has strongly condemned the assassination attempt on 6 May in Istanbul against journalist Can Dündar (editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet daily newspaper) and the jail sentences of 5 years and 10 months for Can Dündar and 5 years for Erdem Gül for procuring, revealing and publishing state secrets. Cumhuriyet published in May 2015 footage that show Turkey’s state intelligence agency ferrying weapons into Syria in 2014, the journalists have since been accused of revealing state secrets. “This new verdict is clearly unacceptable, in contradiction with Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruling and nobody can claim of a fair trial since the court decided to hold the trial behind closed…

Two arrested journalists released in Turkey after 92 days

The European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ-IFJ) warmly welcomed today Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruling on February 25 stating that the rights of Cumhuriyet newspaper journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül have been violated and underlining the lack of justification to jail them following the publication of several articles. The ruling refers to the violations of Article 19 (“right to personal liberty and security”), Article 26 (freedom of expression) and Article 28 (press freedom) of Turkey’s Constitution. Dündar and Gül were arrested on 26 November 2015 after the newspaper’s reporting and footage of the content of trucks belonging to the National Intelligence Agency.…

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