Turkey Detains Senior Staff of Opposition Newspaper

Cumhuriyet's editor and two columnists are in detention over suspicions that they published content legitimizing July's failed coup.

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Main opposition members of parliament and politicians gather in front of Cumhuriyet's headquarters in Istanbul during a police operation, October 31, 2016.
Main opposition members of parliament and politicians gather in front of Cumhuriyet's headquarters in Istanbul during a police operation, October 31, 2016.Credit: Ozan Kose, AFP

Turkish police detained the chief editor and two columnist of Turkey's opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper on Monday and had warrants to detain 10 other senior staff members, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu and columnists Guray Oz and Aydin Engin were taken into custody following raids at their homes, Cumhuriyet said on its website. Police were searching the homes of other senior staff, including the paper's cartoonist.

The detentions of leading employees of the left-leaning and pro-secular Cumhuriyet — one of Turkey's oldest newspapers — come amid accusations by opposition parties and human rights groups that Turkey is using the state of emergency imposed following a failed military coup in July to clamp down not only on the alleged coup plotters but on all government critics.

A statement from the Istanbul chief prosecutor's office said those detained were suspected of "committing crimes" on behalf of the movement led by U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen — accused by the government of masterminding the coup attempt — as well as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. The statement said that while those detained are not accused of membership of the Gulen movement or the PKK, there are "claims" and "proof" that a shortly before the July 15 coup attempt, the suspects had published content that attempted to legitimize the rebellion.

Meanwhile two prominent Kurdish politicians have been put under arrest. Gultan Kisanak, the mayor of Turkey's largest Kurdish-populated city of Diyarbakir, and co-mayor Firat Anli were formally put under arrest Sunday, days after they were taken into custody on unspecified terrorism-related charges.

Sibel Gunes, general secretary of the Turkish Journalists' Association, told The Associated Press that some 170 media outlets have been shut down since the attempted coup and 105 journalists have been arrested. In addition, authorities revoked the press accreditation of more than 600 journalists while thousands of journalists have been left unemployed, Gunes said.

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