Operation against Cumhuriyet indicates ‘witch-hunt,’ says CHP report
Pınar Erdoğan - ANKARALaunching legal proceedings against daily Cumhuriyet on accusations of support for terrorism is an explicit indication of a witch hunt against dissidents, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has stated, in a report prepared after a party visit to the newspaper’s imprisoned journalists.
“To present Cumhuriyet, which has pursued an editorial policy against terrorist organizations since the day it was founded, in parallel with FETÖ [Fethullahist Terror Organization] and the [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK is a clear indicator of the witch hunt initiated against dissidents,” the report quoted Veli Ağbaba, the spokesperson of the CHP’s Prison Investigation Commission, as saying on Nov. 10.
CHP Deputy Chair Ağbaba and CHP Muğla deputy Nurettin Demir visited nine imprisoned daily Cumhuriyet executives and writers on Nov. 10 at Istanbul’s Silivri Prison, including editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, Kadri Gürsel, Turhan Günay and Musa Kart. Following the visit, the CHP lawmakers prepared a report including messages from the jailed journalists, as well as their observations on prison conditions.
“The MPs saw that after the July 15 coup attempt, arbitrary treatment in prisons has been increased and the prison conditions have become more distressing for visitors and inmates,” the report read.
It also included messages conveyed by the imprisoned journalists on conditions inside.
“We were only able to get a newspaper [to read] for the first time after nine days,” Sabuncu was quoted as saying, while writer Güray Öz said they did not received any books and “writing letters is forbidden.”
‘A grotesque operation’
Gürsel, a Cumhuriyet columnist and executive board member of the International Press Institute (IPI), said the allegations are “groundless” and the operation is “unlawful.”
“We just laugh when we hear the allegations against us. It is totally against the law. The operation against Cumhuriyet is the most grotesque and the most politically groundless political case pursued since 2008-2009,” he said.
“We are facing a stillborn case. They are opening an investigation with an unthinkable accusation of operating on behalf of the PKK and FETÖ. The prosecutor himself is a defendant in a Selam Tevhid [affiliated with FETÖ] case,” Gürsel also noted.
‘Against the principles we defend’
“The operation is against the principles that Cumhuriyet defends: Democracy, human rights, secularism, liberty and the rule of law,” Sabuncu stated.
“We are here because of the slander of a Fethullahist prosecutor,” he added.
“One of the questions investigators asked me was whether I have attended the Abant meetings [known as FETÖ gatherings]. I was there as a reporter. I have attended 2,500 meetings of all groups. If that’s how an accusation works, then everyone is a criminal,” Sabuncu added.