Leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Thursday paid a visit to the Cumhuriyet daily, nine of whose journalists were arrested last Saturday, and called on the country’s judges to resist government pressure and to maintain their independence.
Kılıçdaroğlu visited the Cumhuriyet building in İstanbul’s Şişli neighborhood along with some CHP officials and his wife, Selvi, on Thursday afternoon.
He said the number of journalists who are in jail in Turkey had reached 142 with the latest arrests of journalists, while he accused the country’s judges of losing their independence and acting on government orders.
“The judiciary needs to open Turkey’s path; it should resist pressure. Judges were more independent even during the Sept.12 [1980 coup] and March 12 [1971 military memorandum] periods. They were more loyal to the supremacy of law. We would like to see the same picture today,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
The editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet and eight staff members from the daily were arrested on Saturday. They are accused of aiding the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and FETÖ.
FETÖ is a derogatory term and acronym for the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization, coined by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP government to refer to the Gülen movement, which Erdoğan and the AKP accuse of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15. The movement strongly denies having any role in the coup attempt.
The abortive coup on July 15 claimed the lives of more than 240 people and injured a thousand others. Dozens of media outlets in the country have been closed down and scores of journalists have been jailed by the government since the putsch.