Justice in disgrace
Our colleagues in the trial to silence Cumhuriyet have completed their defences against the recommendation that is a copy of the rebutted indictment. In the judgment the court announced at today’s session, it ordered the release of Akın Atalay and acquitted Turhan Günay, Bülent Yener and Günseli Özaltay. The court rained down penalties on Cumhuriyet.
The judgment was announced at the second session of the eighth hearing of the trial aimed at silencing Cumhuriyet at Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 27.
The court presiding over the case handed down prison terms on the count of aiding organisations to Akın Atalay of 7 years 13 months and 15 days, to our newspaper’s foundation chair Orhan Erinç of 6 years 3 months, to our lawyer Bülent Utku of 4 years 6 months, to our Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu of 7 years 6 months, to our columnist Kadri Gürsel of 2 years 6 months, to our readers’ representative Güray Öz of 3 years 9 months, to our manager Önder Çelik of 3 years 9 months, to our cartoonist Musa Kart of 3 years 9 months, to our columnist Hakan Kara of 3 years 9 months, to our lawyer Mustafa Kemal Güngör of 3 years and 9 months, to our columnist Aydın Engin of 7 years 6 months, to our columnist Hikmet Çetinkaya of 6 years 3 months and to our reporter Ahmet Şık of 7 years 6 months. The bench, stating that our accounting employee Emre İper made organisational propaganda with his Tweets, sentenced him to a jail term of 3 years 1 month and 15 days. The bench ordered the release of Akın Atalay, who had been in detention for 541 days. It also imposed a ban on leaving the country on all our convicted columnists and managers.
The court bench acquitted those of our columnists and managers who are executive board members of the Cumhuriyet Foundation on the count of abuse of trust. The bench acquitted our book supplement manager Turhan Günay, our accounting manager Günseli Özaltay and our former employee Bülent Yener on the counts of abuse of trust and aiding organisations. On the other hand, separation from the case of the proceedings against our former Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar and İlhan Tanır was also ordered.
Dissenting opinion to the Kadri Gürsel ruling
Presiding judge Abdurrahman Orkun Dağ announced that the ruling had been passed, in the case of Kadri Gürsel, by majority vote and unanimously in the case of the other Cumhuriyet newspaper staffers. Member judge Halit İçdemir who dissented over Gürsel disagreed with the decision in view of the principle that doubt favours the defendant.
Akın Atalay released
The bench also ordered the release of Akın Atalay, who had been in detention for 541 days.
First statement by Akın Atalay on his release following 541 days
Walking to freedom after 541 days, Akın Atalay said, “I am not going to speak at great length. I am not going to speak in anger. Let them know that we stand behind our words. There is no justice where there is fear. There is no justice in Turkey. Our business is with the system and not people. The important thing is for everyone not to see that there is no fair trial in Turkey. They can no longer instil fear. They cannot instil fear in Cumhuriyet newspaper. We will continue to convey the truth to our readers. They threatened, applied an embargo and held us hostage. From now on our colleagues will show how news reporting is done. We will not be spiteful. I am overjoyed, but there are hundreds of journalists and academics behind bars. It is everyone’s solemn duty to get them out. Just as every night has a morning, we have drawn very close to morning.”