Court rejects objection to arrest of Cumhuriyet editors

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Protesters take the tea during a demonstration in support to the Turkish daily newspaper "Cumhuriyet" outside its headquarters in Istanbul on November 1, 2016. Turkish police on October 31, 2016, detained the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Cumhuriyet -- a thorn in the side of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- as Ankara widens a crackdown on opposition media.

After an operation targeting the opposition Cumhuriyet daily that culminated in the arrest of 10 people including the paper’s CEO and columnists, a court on Friday rejected an objection filed protesting the arrest of the Cumhuriyet staff.

The 9th Criminal Court of Peace in İstanbul handed down a ruling that will lead to the continuation of imprisonment of the critical journalists, who have been in Silivri Prison for the last 14 days.

The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Oct. 31 issued detention warrants for 18 journalists from the daily on charges 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 Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to refer to the Gülen movement, which Erdoğan and the AKP accuse of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15.

The prosecutor’s office said the detentions followed an investigation into allegations that the newspaper had published material justifying the events of July 15.

Cumhuriyet editors deny the charges, often expressing their absurdity in messages from prison and through their lawyers. For instance, a renowned columnist from Cumhuriyet, Kadri Gürsel, is accused of sending subliminal messages in one of his columns. Imprisoned brothers Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan are also accused of sending subliminal messages in support the coup attempt a day before it took place, during a TV show on which they appeared.

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