9 Journalists And Executives At A Leading Turkish Newspaper Are Arrested

November 5, 2016

It’s one of Turkey’s oldest and most-respected newspapers — and that description comes from a rival. But on Saturday, the editor-in-chief, a cartoonist, and seven board members of daily newspaper Cumhuriyet were sent to prison pending trial.

Prosecutors initially ordered the nine journalists detained on Monday, as part of an anti-terrorism investigation linked to a failed coup attempt in Turkey earlier this year. Four others with ties to the newspaper, including two columnists, were released on bail Saturday.

From Istanbul, journalist Dalia Mortada reports for our Newscast unit:

“The daily is one of the last remaining independent voices that is critical of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the government. Since the failed coup, the government has shut down more than 150 media outlets and reclaimed its place as the world’s leading jailer of journalists.

“This is not the first time Cumhurriyet has been targeted by prosecutors. In May, the paper’s former editor-in-chief was sentenced to five years in jail for espionage after he published evidence of Turkish intelligence trucks delivering weapons into Syria. ”

State-run Anadolu Agency lists the arrested journalists as editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu and cartoonist Haci Musa Kart, along with board members Ahmet Kadri Gursel, Guray Tekin Oz, Mustafa Kemal Gungor, Turhan Gunay, Hakan Karasinir, Onder Celik and Bulent Utku.

According to Anadolu, an Istanbul court ordered the nine remanded in custody pending trial after prosecutors accused them of being linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization.

These are complicated times in Turkey. Consider that the Hurriyet Daily News — which today called Cumhuriyet “one of Turkey’s oldest and most-respected newspapers” — is reporting that “the original prosecutor of the investigation is currently under trial over links to the Gülen movement [FETÖ], widely believed to be behind July 15 coup attempt.”

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