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The following article appeared in the Cumhuriyet newspaper on 29 July 2017. Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton

CHP parliamentarians react to the judgment in the Cumhuriyet trial: This decision was taken elsewhere

The interim judgment has been announced in the Cumhuriyet trial. With seven of our colleagues released, four of our colleagues have remained hostages. CHP MPs have expressed their reactions to the interim judgment that was passed.

Sezgin Tanrıkulu: This decision was taken elsewhere

The CHP’s Sezgin Tanrıkulu said, ‘This trial is being conducted according to enemy penal law rules. This judgment is certainly not just. But, let them know that I have noted the following. It was laid down yesterday who was to be released and who was not. This was laid down by those who are directing this trial. The judges ruled in line with this. I want them to know that we have noted this and will not forget. I particularly wish to state before the press that this decision was taken elsewhere and announced here.’

Barıs Yarkadaş: Those who tried to convict journalism convicted themselves

CHP Istanbul MP Barıs Yarkadaş, who made a statement in front of Çağlayan Judicial Complex following the interim judgment the court passed over the Cumhuriyet employees, said, ‘A full 270 days ago, the attempt was made through an operation to convict, destroy and silence journalism. Those who gave the go-ahead for the operation 270 days ago thought they would silence Cumhuriyet newspaper and, so, all of our colleagues who have honourably stood by their profession, and intimidate society. For a full 270 days, our friends marked time in the Silivri dungeons on evidence that cannot even be called fabricated. But, we saw in the trial that was held at the end of these 270 days that what was on trial was not our journalist friends but the drafters of the indictment. From the moment the indictment was placed on trial, all our colleagues threw it in the bin and dispatched it onto the rubbish heap of history. Those who seek crimes in reports made, tweets sent, comments made on television and posts made on Facebook by journalists and their obtaining kebabs from kebab vendors, pita from pita vendors and parquet from parquet installers were unable in any way to prove that the journalists had committed these crimes. Nowhere in the world can a journalist be prosecuted and investigated for reporting the news. Nowhere in the world can a journalist be brought before a serious crime court for placing a headline. We witnessed such a pathetic and tragicomic trial that the Serious Crime Court even brought the matter of whether a newspaper changed its editorial policy onto its court rostrum. This boils down to the blatant endeavour to put journalism on trial, intimidate journalists and silence society. Journalism was placed on the operating table with blunt scalpels in the hands of bad surgeons and was quite simply castrated. However, it has been seen following detention lasting 270 days and also a trial lasting five days that this country’s journalists will continue to conduct journalism in the face of all kinds of pressure. The judgment that has just been passed is an incorrect judgment. Not just seven of our friends, but all of them, should have been both released and acquitted immediately. What are you charging our friends with that you order their detention to continue? What crime did these friends of ours commit? Are you going to find the crime that you have been unable to find for 270 days at the hearing you have appointed for 11 September? Had there been a crime, you could have brought it and exhibited it in front of everyone. Those who tried to convict journalism convicted themselves today at Çağlayan Judicial Complex. This judgment is an incorrect judgment. The journalists must be acquitted at once and given an apology. Those who launched this investigation must immediately apologise to both Cumhuriyet employees and their families, as well as its readers and the democratically minded public. It has been seen once more following the testimony given by our friends that journalism cannot be tried, journalism will not be brought to its knees and journalism will not bow before any tyrant. How good it is that we are Ahmet’s, Akın’s and Kadri’s friends. I wish once more to state how proud we are to be their friends, to witness their hearings and share their world view. We will all see together the shame with which those who attempted to so-call try Ahmet, Kadri, Murat, Turhan, Günay and our other friends will go down in history.’

Eren Erdem: Continuation of detention is an entirely political decision that reeks of revenge

CHP MP Eren Erdem tweeted: ‘Freedom for all journalists! Continuation of detention is an entirely political decision that reeks of revenge. We want freedom for Cumhuriyet.’

Selin Sayek Böke: We will continue to struggle with our honour

Selin Sayek Böke tweeted: ‘One day you, too, will need justice. Until that day, we will continue to struggle shoulder to shoulder with our honour.’

Veli Ağbaba: Courage will triumph

The CHP‘s Veli Ağbaba said in a post accompanied by an image from the trial: ‘Rights, the law and justice will come. Those whose pens tell the truth will become free. Courage will triumph!’

Gürsel Tekin: Down with despotism, long live freedom

Gürsel Tekin said, ‘There exists no crime and no criminals, but there exists an order for detention to continue. Down with despotism, long live freedom.’

Zeynep Altıok: The trial is composed of fiction

The first reaction from the CHP to the interim judgement in the Cumhuriyet trial came from Deputy General Chair and Izmir MP Zeynep Altiok.

The judgment is not legal but political

CHP Deputy General Chair Zeynep Altıok said that the interim judgement passed over the Cumhuriyet newspaper’s columnists was not legal. Zeynep Altıok, stating that the operation targeting Cumhuriyet newspaper was launched following the intelligence service lorries news, said, ‘President Erdoğan’s words directed at Can Dündar, “I will not leave it at that” was the starting point of this phony trial. This investigation, which was launched at the order of Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ himself and by a prosecutor for whom a life sentence is sought on the charge of membership of the FETO terrorist organisation, is not legal but political. Previously, FETO’s prosecutors at least drafted indictments through fabricating evidence, now there is an attempt to manufacture crime with no need even felt for evidence. The attempt is made to silence opposition journalists with accusations of a kind that we can only read about in comics. For example, a Financial Crimes Investigation Board report about the operator of the restaurant frequented by the son of the person he had parquet installed by and paid 2500 lira to six and a half years ago is grounds for charging Akın Atalay of FETO affiliation. Or, Cumhuriyet’s change of editorial policy is cited as evidence in the indictment. If the prosecutor can manufacture FETO affiliation out of concocted relations from six and a half years ago, everybody in the AKP must be detained. Or, if changing a newspaper’s editorial policy is a crime, I recommend that a look be taken at the pro-regime media.’

Altiok, also drawing attention the witnesses heard at the trial, said, ‘Hüseyin Gülerce, who devoted his life to Fethullah Gülen and has now turned informant, registered FETOist Latif Erdoğan and Cem Küçük, whom we remember for the praise he penned for FETO, are now accusing Cumhuriyet staff of FETOism. This fact alone is sufficient for realising that the trial is a fiction.’

These ones will prosecuted like the FETOist judges and prosecutors

Zeynep Altıok, saying, ‘In our country, there has been a wish in every period to make all newspapers and journalists that have written the truth and criticised governing parties pay the price. But, we have never previously experienced a period in which press freedom, freedom of expression and the right to obtain news have been subjected to such pressure at the hands of the controlled judiciary. Unfortunately, we are today being ruled by a regime that makes one long for the darkest of despotic regimes. In terms of press freedom and human rights violations, we have virtually regressed to the level of North Korea. More than 150 of our journalist friends are in detention out of an obsession to maintain political rule even if under a single person’s oppression and force,’ indicated that when the time comes these trials will also be exposed as conspiracies and, just like the FETOist judges and prosecutors of the past, these ones will also be prosecuted.

The judgment proves that the trial is political

Altıok commented as follows on the court ordering the continued detention of Akın Atalay, Murat Sabuncu, Kadri Gürsel and Ahmet Şık, despite releasing Güray Öz, Musa Kart, Bülent Utku, Hakan Kara, Önder Çelik, Kemal Güngör and Turhan Günay, ‘The release ordered of seven journalists while four journalists are ordered to remain in detention under the same indictment is proof that the trial is political.’

Mehmet Tüm: Adjournment should have been until 12 September, not 11 September

CHP Balıkesir MP and Party Assembly Member Mehmet Tüm, tweeted following the judgment, ‘The Cumhuriyet trial should have been adjourned until 12 September, not 11 September. It is well known that journalists are only held hostage in places governed under coup law!’

Archive of Turkish press translations by Tim Drayton