On Monday 24 of July 2017 at Caglayan law court in Istanbul, the trial of 17 team members of Turkish newspaper Cümhuriyet, arrested nine months ago, started. They are accused of supporting a “terrorist organization”, more precisely Fethullah Gülen’s, pointed out by Ankara as the instigator of the 2016 coup.
For the first day of trial, human rights activists, Turkish & international NGOs, deputies, friends and family, came to support the editorial board members – including the cartoonist Musa Kart – who risk between 7 and 43 years of imprisonment. On Friday 28 of July, the judge will decide: the defendants may appear in front of court without detention pending trial, or they could stay in Silivri jail.
Being one of Turkey’s reference newspaper, Cümhuriyet is also the oldest newspaper of the country (93 years). It employed 230 staff members and 50 000 copies used to be printed. This independent opposition newspaper, managed by journalists, is one of the few not possessed by the state or by private groups. In the media landscape of Erdogan’s “democratorship”, the Cümhuriyet journalists’ critical tone against the government bothers an every time more authoritarian and worrying power.
Update 28/07: The majority of Cümhuriyet’s journalists have been released under judicial supervision, including cartoonist Musa Kart. Four leading figures of the newspaper remain in custody. The trial is set to resume on September 11th.
To see our previous weekly editorials on international news, take a look here!