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The third hearing in the Cumhuriyet trial begins today (September 25) before İstanbul 27th Heavy Court in Çağlayan Courthouse. 20 defendants six of whom are in detention on remand are standing trial in the case.
On the second hearing that began on September 11, the defendants Cumhuriyet daily's Former Editor-in-Chief İbrahim Yıldız, news coordinator Aykut Küçükkaya, former member of Cumhuriyet Foundation Executive Board Nevzat Tüfekçioğlu, Cumhuriyet correspondent Miyase İlknur, former President of Cumhuriyet Foundation Nail İnal, Cumhuriyet daily writer Şükran Soner and former public accountant and executive of the foundation Mustafa Pamukoğlu were heard by the court.
In today's hearing, the court was expected to hear the witnesses Fatih Aytuğ Rıza Zelyut, Mehmet Faraç and former member of Cumhuriyet Foundation Executive Board Alev Coşkun. Mehmet Faraç did not attend the hearing.
Cumhuriyet Trial Coordination holding a press conference in front of the courthouse reiterated their demand that the journalists be released immediately.
Some highlights from the press statement read out by Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey - Press Union (DİSK Basın-İş) President Faruk Eren in front of the courthouse are as follows:
"Give back the freedom of journalists"
"Akın Atalay, Murat Sabuncu, Kadri Gürsel, Ahmet Şık and Emre İper will stand before the judge once again today. Although the indictment had collapsed already in the first hearing, they insist on keeping our colleagues further behind bars.
"Turkey has become the largest prison not only for our five colleagues, but for over 160 journalists behind bars. Don't be proud of this picture, on the contrary, feel ashamed and give back the freedom of the journalists.
"Arrested for practicing journalism"
"The political authority can still claim that there are no journalists in prison. We are the witnesses of our colleagues being kept behind bars for practicing journalism. We know that they have been arrested due to the news reports and articles they wrote. And not only us, but everyone who wants to see, is aware of this fact".
"Providing information is a right"
"They can even cite 'changing the publishing policies and damaging the newspaper' among the reasons for arrest. In each trial they make up new excuses to keep our colleagues in jail".
On October 31, 2016, İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office began investigating Cumhuriyet Foundation executives on charges of "Making publications that justify July 15 coup attempt" and "committing crime for PKK/KCK and FETÖ/PDY as non members".
On the same day, Cumhuriyet Daily Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu, columnist Hakan Kara, columnist Hikmet Çetinkaya, columnist Kadri Gürsel, President of the Executive Board Attorney Akın Atalay, Cumhuriyet daily ombudsperson Güray Öz, former Editor-in-Chief and columnist Aydın Engin, cartoonist Musa Kart, Cumhuriyet Foundation Management Board member Attorney Bülent Utku, Cumhuriyet Foundation Management Board member Attorney Mustafa Kemal Güngör, Cumhuriyet Foundation Management Board member Önder Çelik, former Accounting Manager Bülent Yener, Editor-in-Chief of the Cumhuriyet Book Supplement Turhan Günay and Accounting Manager Günseli Özaltay were taken into custody in a police operation.
On December 31, 2016 correspondent Ahmet Şık and on April 19, 2017 accounting department employee Emre İper were arrested.
On April 4, 2017, after 156 days in pre-detention following the first wave of arrests on November 5, 2016, the bill of indictment was prepared.
Two hearings have been held so far. At the end of the first hearing, Güray Öz, Musa Kart, Bülent Utku, Hakan Kara, Önder Çelik, Mustafa Kemal Güngör and Turhan Günay were released and Murat Sabuncu, Akın Atalay, Kadri Gürsel, Ahmet Şık and Ahmet Kemal Aydoğdu remained further in jail. At the end of the second hearing, the court denied the release of the six defendants in detention on remand .
The investigation was initially launched by prosecutor Murat İnam who was at the same time a suspect in the trial of "FETÖ (Fethullahist Terrorist Organization)".
Who faces how many years in prison on what charges?
Can Dündar, Mehmet Murat Sabuncu, Kadri Gürsel, Aydın Engin, Bülent Yener and Günseli Özaltay face from 7.5 to 15 years in prison each on charge of "aiding an armed terrorist organization as a non-member".
Akın Atalay, Mehmet Orhan Erinç and Önder Çelik face from 11.5 to 43 years in prison each on charges of "aiding an armed terrorist organization as a non-member" and "misconduct".
Bülent Utku, Musa Kart, Hakan Karasinir, Mustafa Kemal Güngör and Hikmet Aslan Çetinkaya face from 9.5 to 29 years in prison each on charges of "aiding an armed terrorist organization as a non-member" and "misconduct".
Ahmet Şık faces from 7.5 to 15 years in prison each on charge of "aiding the armed terrorist organizations of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) as a non-member".
The names of those standing trial
Detention on remand: Kadri Gürsel, Akın Atalay, Ahmet Kemal Aydoğdu, Bülent Utku, Murat Sabuncu, Ahmet Şık
Released on first hearing: Güray Öz, Musa Kart, Bülent Utku, Hakan Kara, Önder Çelik, Mustafa Kemal Güngör and Turhan Günay
Probation: Aydın Engin, Hikmet Çetinkaya.
No Confidentiality order: Bülent Yener, Günseli Özaltay, Orhan Erinç.
Order issued to take forcibly to testify: Can Dündar, İlhan Tanır.
Court: İstanbul 27th Heavy Criminal Court
Chief Judge: Abdurrahman Orkun Dağ.
Board of Judges: Seval Alaçam Sağlam, Halit İçdemir.
Prosecutor: Hacı Hasan Bölükbaşı.
This publication has been produced within the partnership with Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso for the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), co-funded by the European Commission. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of media partner IPS Communication Foundation and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.
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