Court of Cassation overturns Cumhuriyet journalists’ prison sentences, demands trial over ‘spying’
The prison sentences for daily Cumhuriyet’s former Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar, and Cumhuriyet’s Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gül, have been overturned by the Court of Cassation, which stated they should be tried over charges of “spying.”
“The sentence should be based on allegations of collecting classified information with the purpose of spying,” the court’s 16th penal chamber announced on March 9.
Dündar was sentenced to five years and 10 months and Gül was sentenced to five years by a local Istanbul court during the much-publicized National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks case in 2014.
The trucks were stopped in Adana by gendarmerie forces allegedly linked to the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), headed by U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who is accused of masterminding the 2016 coup attempt.
Cumhuriyet published some photographs and details of the incident.
Meanwhile, in the sixth hearing of the trial of 17 Cumhuriyet executives and journalists, including the newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu, CEO Akın Atalay and prominent journalist Ahmet Şık, testimonies of several witnesses were heard, and the suspects denied any links to the FETÖ.
Before the hearing started, a group that included the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies Sezgin Tanrıkulu and Utku Çakırözer, and Kani Beko, who is the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK) chair, wanted to issue a press statement outside the courthouse. However, the gendarmerie prevented them, basing their decision on a prohibition of open-air press conferences in Istanbul.
“We are here for the Cumhuriyet case, for press freedom and justice. This is fascism. We will oppose theses kinds of acts in every situation. They are illegal. Our friends have been in prison for more than 500 days,” the CHP deputy Tanrıkulu said.