Representatives of the International Press Institute (IPI) will be in Turkey again this week to monitor proceedings in the trial targeting journalists and executives from independent daily newspaper Cumhuriyet on accusations that its reporting lent support to terrorists.
The representatives will travel to Turkey’s Silivri Prison on the outskirts of Istanbul on Sept. 11, where a hearing in the case targeting 18 journalists, executives and others from the paper – including four who have been held in pre-trial detention in the prison since 2016 – is set to be held.
International IPI delegates will be available to comment on the trial in English and in German. Members of IPI’s Turkey National Committee will also be available to comment in Turkish.
Prosecutors are demanding prison terms of up to 43 years on charges that the paper’s news reports and its criticism of government policy supported terrorist groups, including the movement led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen – whom Turkey’s government blames for the July 2016 coup attempt – as well as outlawed militant Kurdish and leftist groups.
However, the case focuses almost entirely on news reports and social media posts, and on innocuous or unavoidable contacts – and even attempts at contact to which the accused did not respond – with individuals who had a secretive app on their phones said to have been used by Gülen’s followers.
IPI and other international observers maintain that the case is politically motivated. They argue that it is intended to silence Cumhuriyet, one of the country’s few remaining opposition voices, and send a chilling message to others who might dare to publish news or criticism deemed unwelcome by the ruling political establishment headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Defendants imprisoned in the case have effectively faced punishment without conviction, having been held for months in pre-trial detention with arbitrary limits on outside contact and interference with their right to mount a legal defence.
With 171 journalists behind bars, Turkey is the world’s leading jailer of journalists, the vast majority of whom were detained in a sweeping crackdown on dissent amid an ongoing state of emergency declared after the 2016 coup attempt.
The state of emergency, which has accelerated the government’s consolidation of control over almost every segment of society, has led to the dismissal or detention of over 100,000 civil servants, and the closure of some 170 media outlets and hundreds of civil society organisations by decree.
For more information about the Cumhuriyet trial or for comment on the proceedings on Sept. 11 in English, please contact:
Steven M. Ellis
IPI Director of Advocacy and Communications
Telephone: +43 1 512 9011
Mobile 1: +43 680 140 6871
Mobile 2/WhatsApp: +90 545 638 6528 (as of Sept. 10, 2017)
For German-language inquiries, please contact:
IPI Executive Board Vice Chair
Telephone: +41 43 544 1741
Mobile: +41 76 370 3770
To speak with a member of IPI’s Turkey National Committee, please contact:
IPI Turkey National Committee Vice Chair