Court upholds jail sentences on Cumhuriyet staff

90 views
Soldiers stand guard outside the Silivri Prison and Courthouse complex during trial of 17 writers, executives and lawyers of the secularist Cumhuriyet newspaper in Silivri near Istanbul.— Reuters

ANKARA — A Turkish appeals court upheld a ruling to jail journalists and executives from the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, the paper said on Tuesday, adding that its employees will be sent back to prison to serve the remainder of their sentences.

A court last year sentenced 14 staff of Cumhuriyet — one of the few remaining voices critical of the government — to jail on charges of terrorism and supporting a US-based cleric blamed for organizing an attempted coup in July, 2016.

Human rights organizations have voiced increasing concern about media freedom in Turkey, accusing President Tayyip Erdogan of using the abortive putsch as a pretext to quash dissent.

Cumhuriyet said that an appeals court had found the trial lawful and approved the convictions against its staff. The court’s decision finalizes prison sentences under five years and the rest will now go to a higher court.

Journalists Hakan Kara and Guray Oz, cartoonist Musa Kart, lawyer Mustafa Kemal Gungor, board member Onder Celik, and accountant Emre Iper will be sent back to prison to complete their sentences, all of which are less than five years, Cumhuriyet said. Journalist Kadri Gursel and lawyer Bulent Utku will not go back to prison due to time already served.

Editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, prominent journalist Ahmet Sik, Hikmet Cetinkaya, Orhan Erinc, Akin Atalay and Aydin Engin will appeal against their sentences, all longer than five years, at a higher court, the paper added.

The staff of Cumhuriyet were charged with supporting the network of Fethullah Gulen, the Muslim cleric Ankara holds responsible for the failed 2016 coup attempt. They have denied the charges.

Since the failed coup, more than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial, while about 150,000 civil servants and military personnel have been sacked or suspended from their jobs. Widespread operations and arrests are still routine. — Reuters


90 views