Published: Sat, March 10, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Turkey: Opposition Cumhuriyet journalists released pending trial

Turkey: Opposition Cumhuriyet journalists released pending trial

A Turkish court ruled today that two journalists should be released for the duration of their trial for subversion, a lawyer at the courthouse said.

The defendants were accused of "knowingly and willingly" aiding exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has been blamed by Ankara for the failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016. Another ruling is expected in this sixth hearing on whether the accused will continue to be held in jail as a preventative measure or not. At the 6th court session, the court decided the continuation of the trial on restrictive terms and released the chairman of Cumhuriyet's board of management, Murat Sonucu, who had been in custody for 495 days, and journalist, Ahmet Şık, who remained jailed for 434 days.

A demostrator holds a placard of Reporters Without Borders Turkey representative Erol Onderoglu journalist Ahmet Nesin and rights activist and academic Sebnem Korur Fincanci during a demostration in front of the Metris prison
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Thirteen were sentenced to six years and three months in jail, including Hanim Busra Erdal, once a prominent columnist for Zaman. The 25 reporters were convicted on trumped-up terror charges. Ten of those on trial were handed jail terms of seven and a half years, including Unal Tanik, a veteran Turkish journalist who was the editor-in-chief of Rotahaber.

Sabuncu added: "Turkey's problems are not resolved just because we are set free. I would prefer if you were angry, for anger will keep us standing", Sik said. I don't want you to be happy while Akin Atalay is still inside.

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Dozens of journalists have been detained in the wake of the coup bid, causing worldwide concern.

The Cumhuriyet staff are charged with supporting through their coverage three organizations Turkey views as terror groups - the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the ultra-left Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), and the Gulen movement.

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Indeed, Sik is seen as one of Turkey's most incisive critics of the Gulen movement and in 2011 wrote an explosive book "The Imam's Army" exposing the grip the group had on key Turkish institutions. Dundar, former editor-in-chief of leading opposition daily Cumhuriyet, was in May 2016 sentenced to five years and 10 months jail while the paper's Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul was given five years. Dundar has fled Turkey and is now based in Germany.

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