Cumhuriyet staff demand indictment as soon as possible, say they have no access to books to read
DHA PhotoThe arrested staff of daily Cumhuriyet have demanded that their indictment be prepared as soon as possible in the hopes that they can be tried without arrest, said opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Utku Çakırözer, who visited the journalists in Istanbul’s Silivri jail, the daily reported Nov. 25.
Conveying their message via Çakırözer, the Cumhuriyet staff, including writers, its cartoonist and executive team members, harshly objected to their custody, saying their indictments should be ready as soon as possible and that they should be tried without arrest.
Turhan Günay, Kadri Gürsel, Önder Çelik, Musa Kart, Murat Sabuncu, Güray Öz, Bülent Utku, M. Kemal Güngör, Hakan Kara and Akın Atalay were arrested after a major operation on Oct. 31 on charges of “acting on behalf of terror organizations without being a member to them,” for their columns and news stories published in the daily. The “terror” organizations that were referred in charges were the Gülensit organization, which is widely believed to be behind the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey, and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“Our priority expectation is that the indictment be ready as soon as possible. I am also concerned about relations with Europe. Turkey will not be able to overcome this severing of ties. One thing that caused this separation was the fact that journalists are jailed. Turkey should fix this problem. I have anti-coup tweets posted on the night of the coup attempt. Despite this, I am the one who has been arrested. This is a big contradiction,” the daily’s editor-in-chief, Murat Sabuncu, told Çakırözer, adding that he valued the reaction of Turkish women to a recently proposed – but subsequently withdrawn – bill that would have legitimized some forms of child sex abuse. Sabuncu said this attitude created hope for the solution to other problems in Turkey.
The arrested staff members also heavily criticized their conditions as they cannot write letters or access books.
Atalay, the CEO of the daily, who was the latest person to be arrested from the daily after returning from abroad on Nov. 12, said he had filed a petition criticizing their inability to send letters.
“I wanted a table to work. The demand was denied as part of the prison regulations but they gave me a tablecloth. All these are practices made to upset our psychology,” said Atalay.
Columnist Kadri Gürsel said he was asked 63 questions during his testimony but only one was about his articles.
“I have been writing since 2007, there has never even been a probe or case opened against my articles...Trial under arrest is an absolute violation of rights. An indictment should be prepared as soon as possible. For a journalist, each day gone without reading a book is a loss, and it should be punished,” said Gürsel.
Öz also said “journalism was on trial” in the case.
“They do not give the books there are in the jail [to us]. New books should come in from outside. Four our defense, we also need some sort of books. But we cannot even find basic books to read,” said Öz.