Court Case against Arrested Journalists Started in Turkey

17 journalists and editors of Turkish opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet will stand trial today for supporting terrorist organizations and slander. If they are convicted, they will risk up to 43 years in jail. Many of them have stayed in pre-trial imprisonment for more than 9 months.

The journalists were arrested in the aftermath of the failed military coup against the regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in July 2016. The government accuses them of having conspired with the organization of Muslim cleric Fetullah Gülen, which is accused of being the organizer of the coup.

In total, President Erdoğan decreed the closure of 160 media outlets and newspapers, while more than 150 journalists have been arrested. The majority of them are accused of terrorism or collaborating with terrorist organizations.

Turkey is currently the country with the highest number of imprisoned journalists, even though the Turkish state denies this fact. In an interview on BBC a month ago, President Erdoğan claimed that there were only 2 imprisoned journalists in the country, stating that “the others are either terrorists, kept illegal weapons, or robbed ATMs.”

The “limitless state of emergency” declared by the government of President Erdoğan allows him to rule by decree without the approval of Parliament or the safeguards potentially offered by the judiciary.

So far, President Erdoğan’s decrees have led to imprisonment of more than 40,000 accused for the military coup, whereas 140,000 civil servants have been fired, and 1,500 NGOs have been prohibited.