Trial of Cumhuriyet journalists resumes in Turkey | News | DW | 09.03.2018
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Trial of Cumhuriyet journalists resumes in Turkey

Journalists from one of Turkey's last remaining opposition newspapers are back in court, accused of supporting terrorism. The trial comes one day after 25 media workers were jailed for links to the failed 2016 coup.

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Cumhuriyet journalists appear in court

The trial of 17 staff members of Turkey's opposition daily newspaper Cumhuriyet resumed on Friday at the Silivri prison compound outside Istanbul.

"End this persecution," read the front page headline of the Cumhuriyet (whose name translates to "Republic").

The journalists are accused of supporting organizations the government has deemed terrorist groups. 

Before the hearing opened, anti-riot police with shields prevented supporters giving statements to media.

The prosecution said the groups were all linked to Fethullah Gulen, a US-based preacher the government claims was behind a failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016.

Read more: Erdogan in Paris: Journalists are 'gardeners' of terrorism

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Journalists on trial in Turkey

Who is on trial?

Most of the defendants are now free pending the conclusion of the trial, but three senior staff members — chairman Akin Atalay, editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu and investigative reporter Ahmet Şik — remain in detention at the Silivri compound. Atalay and Sabuncu have now spent the last 495 days behind bars and Şik, who was detained after the initial wave of arrests, 434 days.

Şik is a sharp critic of the Turkish government and has written books about the inner workings of the Gulen movement years before the failed coup attempt. During the last hearing in December, Şik was removed from the court after accusing the government of treating its critics like "terrorists" during his defense.

Yonca Şik, Ahmet's wife, told DW before the trial that she has been visiting her husband in the courtroom or in jail for the past year — and she is prepared for it to remain that way.

"Ahmet didn't do anything wrong — he is in the right. Therefore I don't lose hope. I believe in Ahmet and I believe in self," she told DW. "But expectations? No, I don't expect anything from this judiciary and this country anymore.

"When you know the reasons for the imprisonment of Ahmet and his colleagues and then see how they defend their journalism colleagues in court despite everything — that makes many people proud."

The Cumhuriyet staff members face up to 43 years in prison if convicted.

The latest hearing comes a day after an Istanbul court sentenced 25 people, almost all of whom worked for media with close ties to Gulen, to prison terms of up to seven and a half years.

Turkey has jailed more than 50,000 people since the 2016 failed coup attempt, including dozens of journalists.

Julia Hahn contributed to this report

dv/rt (AFP, dpa)

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