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Oğuz Güven speaks of his 30 days’ incarceration: ‘An operation to silence the press’

Oğuz Güven, who spent thirty days in detention due to a tweet announcing a traffic accident, said, ‘As a service manager at Cumhuriyet newspaper, I was expecting to be detained at any moment.’ Güven said that the reason for the detention of twelve people from Cumhuriyet is that this is an operation to silence the press.
Yayınlanma tarihi: 19 Haziran 2017 Pazartesi, 11:28

Seyhan Avşar
Our newspaper’s news site cumhuriyet.com.tr’s Editor Oğuz Güven, who was released the day before yesterday having spent thirty days in detention for a headline framed after the accident in which Prosecutor Mustafa Alper lost his life, spoke about his thirty days’ incarceration in Silivri and his feelings. Güven, who celebrated his birthday in jail, described the flood of emotions he experienced when reading his daughter’s letter that was published in Cumhuriyet and about the rally staged by his colleagues in Yoğurtçu Park, saying ‘I retired to my room and wept.’ As Güven recounted that moment in his room at our newspaper, his eyes again betrayed the same emotion.
- Did you think that a news tweet would lead to you being detained?
Actually, as a service manager at Cumhuriyet newspaper, I was expecting to be detained at any moment. This operation is an operation against Cumhuriyet. I mean, it is not an operation against people; it is a revenge operation, an operation to silence the press. If you work at Cumhuriyet at such times, this detention is something you expect. So, it was not surprising. Whatever they say, they cannot make it stick. They cannot pin organisational ties on me, there is nothing on my phone, it is no secret who I talk to and meet and I am a person who lives with the news on a 24-hour basis. Everyone who I have spent 32 years in this profession with knows this very well. I have lived for my honesty and my profession. They were looking for a slip-up. They came down on me for a ridiculous slip-up. It has blown up in their faces, anyway.
When the radio broke down
- What did you feel as your detention order was being read?
I thought they would bang me up for five or six months and then release me. That was the first thing to go through my mind. I told myself they could not detain me for longer on such a charge. But if, as has happened with my detained colleagues, they draft the indictment five or six months later, once you allow for the day in court and so on, you will have spent a year in jail.
- What did you do in prison?
I read books and paced up and down a lot. I did not get a television for ten days. I got one when I realised my time in detention would drag out. I studied English. I listened to the radio. At one point, the radio broke down. That drove me to exasperation. You look for some sound in the room. We had our breakfast in the courtyard. You read papers, had meals, took exercise and it was evening before you knew it.
- Were you shaken by any news while you were inside?
All news had a great impact on me in prison. But, footage I saw on FOX TV in which Prime-Minister Binali Yıldırım was unable to write Turkish filled me with horror. This news made it to the second page of Cumhuriyet. ‘If only it had been a banner headline,’ I said. This was front-page news. I was really perturbed. This was more that I would have expected. How is Turkey being governed?
 ‘I was gutted’
- At the time you were released, Enis Berberoğlu was detained. What are your thoughts?
I was watching Fatih Portakal in the evening. That day was my birthday. I read my daughter’s letter and about my colleagues’ rally in the newspaper. I was moved. I retired to my room and wept. As it was cold, I said I would have my meal in my room that day rather than in the courtyard. I was just sitting down to eat when Fatih Portakal announced that the indictment against me had been drafted. I was overjoyed. The drafting of the indictment meant that the proceedings were underway. There was some hope. With the indictment in sight, I started to follow the day’s news. Then, the next day, the shutter opened at 4 pm. I was told that I had been released. I switched the TV on right away. I saw that Enis Berberoğlu had been detained. Enis is a very old friend of mine. I could take no joy at my release. I was gutted. I actually feel embarrassed because my friends are still there.
- The march launched by the CHP leader ...
I consider the Justice March to be most valuable. The CHP made a huge error over the lifting of immunity. Everybody must support this march for the law and justice to prevail. Justice will absolutely be necessary for everybody one day.
- You were three detained journalists in the same cell.
Yes, I was in the same cell as Oğuz Usluer of Habertürk and Gökmen Ulu of Sözcü. Gökmen was in astonishment when he first came, because there were five changes of prosecutor involved in the investigation and they could not detect any crime, then he was detained when the sixth prosecutor came. Gökmen’s sole concern was his son Efe. He was thinking about how he would explain this to his son. At that age, for kids, why does a person go to jail? They are either murderers or thieves, or have committed corruption. These are the reasons for going to jail in the innocent world of children. How is a child to know that he would be locked up for the news he reported? I actually saw Efe on the Popular Arena programme. He was full of praise for his dad. Oğuz Usluer has also got two lovely kids. Oğuz Usluer is a perfect person. They raised two dodgy charges against Oğuz. He was released. With him just having got out of the door and being about to meet up with his kids, he was redetained on another aspersion. The hitmen posing as journalists had printed Oğuz’s picture and turned him into a target. And I missed my grandson most of all.
- How did your time under arrest pass?
Everything was done according to due procedure. But, staying in the custody suite for one day was like spending one month in jail. I went through a tough time in the custody suite. Arrest periods must be shortened immediately. You are stuck in a desolate place without any rights. It was a tough time. I stayed in the druggies’ suite. I awoke to the screams of drug addicts. The only time I was able to get a breath of air was when I went to the doctor and came back.

Cumhuriyet İMECESİ

Cumhuriyet Arşivi Gazete Kupürlerinde:

Binali Yıldırım, Enis Berberoğlu