Published: Mon, March 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Turkey court demands graver charge, longer jail for top journalist

Turkey court demands graver charge, longer jail for top journalist

A total of 17 staff from Cumhuriyet face terror charges in the trial, which opened on 24 July. At the 6th court session, the court decided the continuation of the trial on restrictive terms and released the chairman of Cumhuriyet's board of management, Murat Sonucu, who had been in custody for 495 days, and journalist, Ahmet Şık, who remained jailed for 434 days.

Both were allowed to go free because of the time they had already spent in jail.

Sik, a staunch critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said after walking free from Silivri jail that there could be no celebration as Atalay remained in jail.

It is unclear when the court will announce a final verdict.

Also present in the courtroom were defendants who were released previous year after long stints in jail.

However they remain under charge and on trial.

- A court on Thursday convicted a musician-turned-newspaper columnist of "knowingly and willingly" aiding the network led by US -based Mulim cleric Fethullah Gulen and sentenced him to three years and one month in prison, Turkey's state-run news agency reported.

Taking aim at the government, he added: "I assure you that day will come when this Mafia sultanate comes to an end".

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"I prefer you to be frustrated because frustration will help us stand tall. today is not a day to be happy".

"As journalists, our mission is to do our job fearlessly as we did before".

In a statement, Amnesty International said the ruling offered a "glimmer of hope" in a country where media has been hard hit.

Since the failed coup, Turkey has been holding a massive crackdown on people it claims are affiliated with Gulen's movement.

Turkish authorities accuse Cumhuriyet staff of supporting Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara believes headed the coup attempt, as well as the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the ultra-left Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front.

The Istanbul court in a surprise manner at midnight on Friday made a decision to release the two Cumhuriyet journalists. More than 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended in the purge that followed a 2016 failed coup and more than 50,000 people have been detained.

Supporters say the charges are absurd, noting that the outlawed groups cited in the indictment are themselves at odds with each other. He was on trial with others - mostly journalists - accused of having links to Gulen.

Dundar and his colleague from the Cumhuriyet newspaper, Erdem Gul, had each been sentenced in May 2016 to five years in prison for publishing a video purporting show Turkey's intelligence agency trucking weapons into Syria.

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