The Cumhuriyet daily’s chief executive officer, Akın Atalay, who was detained at İstanbul Atatürk Airport on Friday upon his return from Germany based on a warrant issued on Nov. 1, was arrested by an İstanbul court on Saturday.
Atalay was referred to court on Saturday after his detention on Friday. Atalay, who was in Germany, was not found at his residence during an operation targeting the opposition paper that resulted in the arrest of nine Cumhuriyet columnists and executives.
In messages sent through Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies Şafak Pavey and Sezgin Tanrıkulu, who paid a visit to imprisoned Cumhuriyet columnists and executives on Thursday, the jailed journalists said all they did was journalism and that they are being held on nonsense charges.
The CHP deputies visited Murat Sabuncu, Musa Kart, Güray Öz, Bülent Utku, M. Kemal Güngör, Hakan Kara, Turhan Günay, Kadri Gürsel and Önder Çelik in solidarity with the secular newspaper, which has been targeted on charges of terrorist propaganda. The deputies conveyed the journalists’ messages during a subsequent visit to the newspaper in İstanbul.
The editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet, Murat Sabuncu, who replaced Can Dündar after he fled the country due to an assassination attempt earlier this year, said that all they did was journalism. Sabuncu demanded freedom not only for himself but also for all journalists in Turkish prisons.
Another prominent imprisoned journalist, Kadri Gürsel, who is also the Turkey representative of the International Press Institute (IPI), said in his message that they were put in Silivri Prison based on ridiculous and irrational charges. He vowed to continue doing journalism with the help of the paper’s readership and civil society.
Renowned caricaturist Musa Kart pointed out that they are included in an attempt to collectively punish all critics in the country.
Nearly 150 journalists are behind the bars in Turkey.