Eleven people, including executives and columnists of the critical daily Cumhuriyet newspaper, were detained in a series of raids on their homes early on Oct. 31, after prosecutors initiated a probe against them on “terrorism” charges.
According to a list published on Cumhuriyet’s website, detention warrants were issued for 15 journalists, including executive board members of the Cumhuriyet Foundation. The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office said the operation was based on accusations that the suspects were “committing crimes on behalf of the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party
Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, Turhan Günay, Hikmet Çetinkaya, Aydın Engin, Güray Öz, Musa Kart, Bülent Utku, Mustafa Kemal Güngör, Önder Çelik, Bülent Yener and Eser Sevinç were all detained by police.
Columnist Kadri Gürsel and accountant Günseli Özaltay were still being sought for detention, while journalist
Nebil Özgentürk and Cumhuriyet foundation executive board chair Akın Atalay, also sought for detention, were reported to be overseas.
A detention notice was also issued for former Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief Can Dündar, who went abroad following his conviction earlier this year in a case related to the newspaper’s report on the alleged transfer of weapons by Turkey’s intelligence agency to rebels in Syria.
The house of another writer, Orhan Erinç, was searched but he was not detained due to his age.
Two opposition parties and press groups condemned the raids, saying the move passes another threshold in pressure on dissidents by the Turkish government.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said the detention warrants issued against daily Cumhuriyet’s employees only targeted the daily’s foundation board members and were a result of a probe initiated by Istanbul prosecutors on Aug. 18.
Saying today’s operations were the outcome of an investigation that began months ago, Kurtulmuş added that the legal proceedings were part of an ongoing process and that it would not be correct to express any opinion during the current process.
Today’s detentions, however, involved names who are not just members of the Cumhuriyet Foundation’s Executive Board but also journalists working at the daily.