Istanbul court releases 7 suspects in Cumhuriyet daily case
An Istanbul court on Friday released seven suspects in the probe into Cumhuriyet daily journalists who are accused of aiding a terrorist group.Earlier that same day, the prosecutor asked the court for the release of five suspects and the continuation of detention for seven others.
Cumhuriyet columnist and Press Institute (IPI) board member Kadri Gürsel and Ahmet Şık were among the seven that the prosecutor asked their detentions to be extended.
Along with caricaturist Musa Kart, the court ruled for the release of journalists Güray Öz, Bülent Utku, Hakan Kara, Önder Çelik, Mustafa Kemal Güngör and Turhan Günay under judicial supervision, meaning they have to report to the authorities regularly ahead of the next hearing on September 11.
The prosecutor also asked the court to open a separate investigation into Şık's plea during the trial.
The suspects are accused of having links to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which the government blames for last year's July 15 coup attempt and helping spread FETÖ propaganda. Two of the suspects, including Can Dündar, who faces charges in another FETÖ-linked case, have fled the country.
The prosecutors' 324-page indictment claims Cumhuriyet was effectively taken over by FETÖ and used to "veil the actions of terrorist groups." The newspaper and the suspects have denied the accusations. The majority of the evidence in the indictment comes from social media posts, along with allegations that staff members had been in contact with users of ByLock, an encrypted messaging app the government says FETÖ members used.
Cumhuriyet had long followed a secular, left-wing, republican editorial policy with a nationalist tone in various periods. However, in recent years, the paper drew fire from some of its reader base for adopting a tone that they claimed supports the PKK and, most recently, FETÖ.