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Jailed journalists refuse to wear uniforms designed for coup suspects

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Imprisoned journalists from the Cumhuriyet and Sözcü newspapers told members of two Turkish press organizations who visited them in Silivri Prison on Thursday that they will not wear uniforms designed for jailed members of the Gülen movement, which is accused by Turkish authorities of being behind a failed coup last year.

According to the TR724 website, Turkish Journalists’ Association (TGC) President Turgay Olcayto and Press Council (BK) in Turkey President Pınar Türenç, along with several other TGC and BK officials, visited jailed the Cumhuriyet and Sözcü journalists in Silivri Prison on Thursday after Turkish authorities permitted them to visit after nine-and-a-half months of requests.

Türenç said she spoke to Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu, columnist Kadri Gürsel, reporter Ahmet Şık and Sözcü reporters Gökmen Ulu and Mediha Olgun and told them that the government had designed a uniform for jailed members of the Gülen movement, which the journalists are also accused of membership in, to wear at court hearings.

“They all said they would not wear those uniforms, even if they were to face consequences,” Türenç said.

Türenç also underlined that along with the TGC, the BK has worked to arrange a visit to the jailed journalists in Silivri Prison nine-and-a-half months months.

“All our applications were rejected [by former Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ]. We were given permission after the minister changed. We are very happy to see our friends. We are happy to see them in good health,” she said.

Last week, Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül said that if a proposed government regulation on uniforms for coup suspects were adopted, nearly 50,000 uniforms  would be sewn by inmates and then sent to prisons holding suspects in cases involving followers of the Gülen movement.

Speaking on the issue in July, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said: “We recently spoke to Mr. Prime Minister. They should wear uniforms like they do at Guantanamo [prison] when going to court.”

The Cumhuriyet journalists were arrested by the İstanbul 9th Penal Court of Peace on Nov. 5, 2016. Atalay was detained at İstanbul Atatürk Airport upon his return from Germany and subsequently arrested on Nov. 12, 2016. The Sözcü daily journalists were arrested by a court on May 26 over their alleged support and ties to the Gülen movement, despite the fact that both newspapers are ideologically opposed to the Gülen movement.

On July 28, an İstanbul court released seven Cumhuriyet journalists and continued the pretrial detention of five others.

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