ISTANBUL — Journalists and staff from a Turkish newspaper staunchly opposed to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have gone on trial in Istanbul, accused of aiding terror organizations — a case that has added to concerns over rights and freedoms in Turkey.
The 19 defendants, including Cumhuriyet’s editor in chief Murat Sabuncu, investigative journalist Ahmet Sik, commentator Kadri Gursel, and cartoonist Musa Kart, went on trial on Monday — a day that is marked as press freedom day in Turkey.
They are accused of sponsoring several outlawed organizations, including Kurdish militants, a far-left group and the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen who is blamed for last year’s failed coup.
Twelve of the defendants are in jail, while five were released from custody pending the outcome of the trial. Two of the suspects, including Cumhuriyet’s former chief editor Can Dundar, are being tried in absentia. He is in Germany.
The government insists that the journalists have been arrested for criminal activities — not for their reporting.