Turkish court extends detention of Cumhuriyet journalists

Turkish soldiers stand guard outside the Silivri Prison and Courthouse complex during trial of 17 writers, executives and lawyers of the secularist Cumhuriyet newspaper in Silivri near Istanbul, Turkey, on Monday. (REUTERS)
Updated 13 September 2017
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Turkish court extends detention of Cumhuriyet journalists

ANKARA: A second hearing in Istanbul on Monday extended the detention of five journalists with Turkey’s leading opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet.
They are accused of helping the Gulen network — which is believed to have masterminded last year’s failed coup attempt — the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the ultra-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C). All three are branded by Ankara as terrorist organizations.
After a 13-hour session, the court ruled to keep the journalists in prison until the next hearing on Sept. 25, when the court is expected to give its verdict on the basis of expert reports and eyewitness accounts.
The journalists have been in pre-trial detention for almost a year. The first hearing was held on July 28 in Istanbul, where seven of the newspaper’s staff were freed after 271 days in prison.
“The reason I’m here in front of you isn’t because I ‘helped a terror organization while not being a member.’ It’s because I was an independent, critical, questioning journalist, and because I’ve never compromised my work as a journalist and always insisted on doing my job correctly,” Kadri Gursel, editorial adviser at Cumhuriyet and board member at the International Press Institute, told the court.
“Whatever the verdict, my conscience is clean. And if there’s even a little bit of justice left, I know I’ll be freed.”
Some members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have begun moderating their stance on the case.
AKP deputy and former Education Minister Nabi Avci said on the day of the trial that it is not “a right thing” to take the Cumhuriyet case together with other coup cases.
Laura Batalla, secretary-general of the European Parliament Turkey Forum, told Arab News that extending the journalists’ detention is yet another attack on press freedom in the country.
“The European Parliament has repeatedly condemned the arrests of journalists, and has voiced its concern over the decline of media freedom in Turkey in several resolutions,” she said.
“Press freedom and respect for democratic values are at the core of the EU’s enlargement process. These values must be upheld in order for the accession process to proceed, which remains the EU’s most powerful instrument to bring Turkey and the EU closer together.”
Rebecca Harms, a member of the European Parliament and part of a delegation of observers following up on the trial, said she is disappointed but not surprised by the extension of the journalists’ detention.
“The charges against them as purported supporters of terrorism, and their alleged affinity to the Gulen movement, were refuted again in court,” she told Arab News.
“Cumhuriyet belongs to the most ardent critics of the Gulen movement, and it represents secular and liberal values.”
Burak Cop, associate professor of politics at Istanbul Kultur University, told Arab News that the trial mainly focused on the newspaper’s editorial policies rather than allegations of supporting terrorism.
According to the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), 171 journalists are behind bars in Turkey.


Jordan links deadly blasts to militant cell

Updated 15 February 2019
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Jordan links deadly blasts to militant cell

  • Analysis of the site found the blasts were caused by "homemade explosives buried in the ground matching the type used by a terrorist cell in Al-Fuhais" last August
  • The Salt region was the scene of heavy clashes between gunmen and security forces after the attack which targeted a security patrol at a music festival

AMMAN: Jordan said Friday that two deadly explosions which rocked the Salt region northwest of the capital Amman were apparently linked to a militant cell.
A security source had previously told AFP that old mines were behind Thursday's blasts which killed a farmer and three members of the security forces.
But analysis of the site found the blasts were caused by "homemade explosives buried in the ground matching the type used by a terrorist cell in Al-Fuhais" last August, government spokeswoman Jumana Ghneimat said.
She was referring to an August 11 bomb attack on a security patrol in the nearby town of Al-Fuhais that killed a police sergeant and wounded six others.
The Salt region was the scene of heavy clashes between gunmen and security forces after the attack which targeted a security patrol at a music festival.
Four security force members and three "terrorists" were killed during a raid on a militant hideout a day after the blast.