Court rules opposition newspaper staff must remain in custody

A Turkish court ordered that five staff members of the opposition daily Cumhuriyet being tried on charges of "terror activities" remain in custody
Activists, one holding a copy of the Cumhuriyet, march to the court in İstanbul. The newspaper headline reads in Turkish: "We want justice."
Tuesday, 12 September 2017 02:03

A Turkish court ordered Monday that five staff members from the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper in custody on Monday in a trial.

The court rejected a plea to free them from detention, justified its decision to keep the staff members in custody by saying it had been unable to question three witnesses called to the stand Monday.

A "more definitive" decision on their continued detention will be taken at a hearing scheduled for September 25, the tribunal's president said. 
"The court has decided to keep the arrested until witnesses are heard," chief judge said after a 13-hour session.

Applause erupted in the audience as the men were escorted from the courtroom.

Those on trial are charged with using their position to network the Fethullah Gülen, along with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the ultra-left Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).

Prosecutors say Cumhuriyet was effectively taken over by the network of Fethullah Gülen, a U.S.-based Islamic preacher masterminded last year's failed coup attempt, and that the paper was used to target Erdoğan and veil the actions of terrorist groups. 

The judge asked several witnesses, including Cumhuriyet staff and former members of the foundation which owns the daily, about its financial situation and the editorial process, including how headlines are chosen and the angle of stories.

Meanwhile, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy and former Education Minister Nabi Avcı said he did not see mentioning the Cumhuriyet case together with the coup cases "a right thing."

Attending a separate coup case at the complex, Avcı said the Gülen network was attempting to exploit some cases which were not directly linked to them, stressing that the cases against the journalists and the arrest decisions on them should be reviewed within those principles in order not to pave way for such exploitation.