Nine journalists and executives from the Cumhuriyet daily, including its Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu, were arrested by the İstanbul 9th Penal Court of Peace on Saturday.
Kadri Gürsel, Musa Kart, Güray Öz, Mustafa Kemal Güngör, Turhan Günay, Bülent Utku, Önder Çelik and Eser Sevinç from Cumhuriyet were arrested in addition to the paper’s editor-in-chief Sabuncu.
Columnists Aydın Engin and Hikmet Çetinkaya and account managers Gülseli Özaltay and Bülent Yener were released by the court pending trial. A travel ban was imposed on the four Cumhuriyet employees who were released.
Police raided Sabuncu and Öz’s houses along with the residences of the daily’s CEO Akın Atalay and columnist Çetinkaya early on Monday on the order of an İstanbul court, which issued detention warrants for 13 staff members on allegations of aiding the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and FETÖ.
FETÖ is a derogatory term and acronym for the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization, coined by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to refer to the Gülen movement, which Erdoğan and the AKP accuse of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15.
A detention warrant was also issued for Cumhuriyet daily CEO Atalay and former Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar, who left Turkey before July. According to Sabah, detention warrants were issued for both Atalay and Dündar after they fled abroad.
Dündar was sentenced to six years in prison for publishing state secrets involving Ankara’s Syria operations. His conviction sparked protest from rights groups and Western governments worried about worsening human rights in Turkey under President Erdoğan.
Police operations targeting Cumhuriyet editors, columnists and executives came after Turkey dismissed a further 10,000 civil servants and closed 15 more media outlets over suspected links with militant groups and Fethullah Gülen. More than 120,000 people have already been sacked or suspended and nearly 75,000 detained and 37,000 arrested since a failed coup attempt in an unprecedented crackdown that Erdoğan says is crucial for wiping out Gülen sympathizers from the state apparatus.