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Turkish court rules Cumhuriyet daily journalists to remain in jail

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An İstanbul court on Monday ruled that several Cumhuriyet daily journalists who were arrested on Nov. 12, 2016 on terror charges will remain in pretrial detention, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.

The İstanbul 27th High Criminal Court scheduled the next hearing for March 9, 2018 for Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu, reporter Ahmet Şık, CEO Akın Atalay and accountant Emre İper, who will remain in jail. A courtroom at Silivri Prison will be venue for the next hearing.

A Dec. 25 hearing at the Çağlayan Courthouse witnessed decisions of the court disputed by the defendants. Presiding judge Abdurrahman Orkun Dağ halted the defense of reporter Şık and ordered him removed for presenting a political defense.

“There is a judiciary controlled by the government that is translating this ’terrorist’ term into preposterous accusations,” Şık, who has now been in prison for 360 days, told the court before being interrupted.

“Don’t forget that one day you will be tried. I hope you will not be tried in a court like this,” Şık said while being escorted from the courtroom.

In reaction to the judge’s order, Sabuncu and Atalay decided not to give their defense.
Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) tweeted a response to the move: “One more time, no release. SHAME!! Next audience set for 9 March at Silivri high security prison. This is not justice, this is revenge!”

The charges brought against 17 Cumhuriyet employees in an April indictment accuse them of aiding the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) and the Gülen movement, which is accused by Turkish authorities of being behind a failed coup last year.

On Sept. 26, the court ruled for the release of Cumhuriyet daily journalist Kadri Gürsel.
Earlier in July, the court released Güray Öz, Musa Kart, Bülent Utku, Hakan Kara, Önder Çelik, Turhan Günay and Mustafa Kemal Güngör.

Arrest warrants for Cumhuriyet’s former Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar and US-based journalist İlhan Tanır are still outstanding.

The suspects 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.

Cumhuriyet reporter Şık was also detained on Dec. 22 and arrested on Dec. 30, 2016 on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda.

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