In messages sent through Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies Şafak Pavey and Sezgin Tanrıkulu, who paid a visit to imprisoned Cumhuriyet columnists and executives on Thursday, the jailed journalists said that all they did was journalism and they are being held on nonsense charges.
Nine Cumhuriyet staff members joined the ranks of nearly 150 journalists under arrest in Turkey last week. The CHP deputies visited Murat Sabuncu, Musa Kart, Güray Öz, Bülent Utku, M. Kemal Güngör, Hakan Kara, Turhan Günay, Kadri Gürsel and Önder Çelik in solidarity with the secular newspaper, which has been targeted on charges of terrorist propaganda. The deputies conveyed the journalists’ messages during a subsequent visit to the newspaper in İstanbul.
The editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet, Murat Sabuncu, who replaced Can Dündar after he fled the country due to an assassination attempt earlier this year, said that all they did was journalism. Sabuncu demanded freedom not only for himself but also for all journalists in Turkish prisons. According to him, over 200 journalists are currently being jailed in Turkey.
Another prominent imprisoned journalist, Kadri Gürsel, who is also the Turkey representative of the International Press Institute (IPI), said in his message that they were put in Silivri Prison based on ridiculous and irrational charges. He vowed to continue doing journalism with the help of the paper’s readership and civil society.
Renowned caricaturist Musa Kart pointed out that they are included in an attempt to collectively punish all critics in the country.
Mustafa Kemal Güngör stated that the indictment against Cumhuriyet is a politically motivated operation that has no legal basis. He offered thanks for the support for the newspaper and underlined the importance of the CHP in protecting the republic.
CHP deputy Pavey also reported that the prisoners have difficulty in getting access to books in Silivri Prison.