Turkish riot police used force to disperse a group of lawyers who held a sit-in protest at the İstanbul Courthouse on Thursday in protest of the arrest of three lawyers who were jailed as part of an investigation into the Cumhuriyet daily.
The lawyers were demanding the release of Cumhuriyet daily’s chief executive officer, Akın Atalay, and the Cumhuriyet Foundation’s executive board members Bülent Utku and Mustafa Kemal Güngör, all of whom are attorneys.
Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies Celal Doğan, Filiz Kerestecioğlu and Garo Paylan, who are also lawyers, were also at the İstanbul Courthouse to join the protest.
The lawyers held banners in silence that read “Freedom to defense.” When the lawyers refused to end their protest, riot police intervened with shields and detained eight of them.
Some lawyers were injured in the fray.
Ten journalists and executives from the Cumhuriyet daily, including its Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu, were arrested by the İstanbul 9th Penal Court of Peace in November.
They face allegations of aiding the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) 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 Justice and Development Party (AKP) accuse of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15.