Dawn breaks over Istanbul in March 2019. A court in the Turkish city has rejected a stay of execution request from lawyers representing Cumhuriyet staff. (AFP/Yasin Akgul)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of April 28, 2019

By Özgür Öğret/CPJ Turkey Representative on May 2, 2019 12:57 PM ET

Cumhuriyet appeal rejected by local court

An Istanbul court on April 30 rejected a stay of execution request from lawyers representing eight staff from the daily Cumhuriyet, the news website T24 reported. The lawyers asked authorities to not act on a local appeals court ruling that upheld their sentencing until the Supreme Court had ruled on a case involving their colleagues, who faced longer prison terms.

Six of the staff who were earlier sentenced to less than five years in prison returned to custody last week, after they were denied the right to further appeal, CPJ documented. Mustafa Kemal Güngör, a lawyer who is among the defendants, told CPJ on April 20 that if the Supreme Court overturned the original conviction, it would invalidate the prison terms for those already ordered to serve their sentences, including Güngör. During a press conference last week, the defence team has said they would appeal to the original court for a stay of the execution on this basis, but that they were not hopeful.

Istanbul police briefly detain editor over book

Ali Avcu, chief editor of the pro-CHP daily Yurt, was called to give testimony to Istanbul police about his 2018 book on the local political environment, his employer reported. The journalist was detained briefly, then taken to a prosecutor who released him without charge after questioning, according to the report.

One acquittal, one fine for jailed journalist Altan

On April 26, the imprisoned journalist attended to two separate trials at the same Istanbul court via teleconference, the leftist daily Evrensel reported. The cases both relate to columns Altan published in 2009 and 2010. In the first case, Altan was accused of "violating the secrecy of an investigation," "attempting to influence a fair trial," and "insult," after a police chief in Sakarya filed a complaint over Altan's 2009 column, "Who has left outside of the mafia?" The court found Altan guilty of "violating secrecy" and fined him 1,061 Turkish lira (US$177). In the second trial, the court acquitted Altan of "insult" related to a complaint filed by İlker Başbuğ, a former chief of the general staff, over a 2010 column, according to reports. Both of the columns were published by the shuttered daily Taraf. Altan remains in prison, where he is serving a life sentence without parole for "attempting, through violence and force, to disrupt and replace the order as recognized by Turkey's Constitution," according to CPJ research.

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