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The International Press Institute (IPI) has released a written statement ahead of the Cumhuriyet hearing that will continue on December 25-26, which includes 20 defendants, 5 of whom are under arrest.
IPI, expressing that charges that the Cumhuriyet newspaper employees sought to seize control of the paper and slant its coverage to support terrorist groups were “preposterous”, also commented that accusations that news reporting and commentary criticizing the government or scrutinizing the government’s policies was intended to aid the Gülen movement was “absurd.”
Calling attention to the fact that some of the defendants had been in pre-trial detention for 14 months, it was stated in the press release that the “conduct of investigations apparently intended to bolster charges decided in advance are disgraceful.”
“3 IPI members are on trial”
“Three IPI members are on trial: our fellow IPI Executive Board Member Kadri Gürsel, Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu and investigative journalist Ahmet Şık.
“Both Sabuncu and Şık have been held since late 2016 on the ground that their release might allow them to tamper with “evidence”, i.e., publicly available news reports or commentary posted months or even years ago.”
“This case is intended to send a message to opposition voices”
“The drawn-out pre-trial detention of these respected journalists and dozens more represents punishment without conviction and demonstrates a significant departure from respect for human rights and the rule of law, two fundamental pillars without which actual democracy cannot exist.
“It is clear that this case is intended to silence Cumhuriyet, one of the country’s few remaining opposition voices, and to send a message to others who might dare to publish news or criticism deemed unwelcome by the ruling political establishment.
“Such behaviour is both wholly unacceptable and completely antithetical to justice, good governance and human decency.
“We urge Turkey’s government to free our colleagues and dismiss this case, to take similar steps in the dozens of other cases in which journalists face imprisonment for their work and to end its systematic repression of the fundamental human right to share and receive information.” (EKN/LN)
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