Police on December 29, 2016, detained Şık, an investigative journalist and a reporter for the opposition daily Cumhuriyet, on allegations of spreading terrorist propaganda on Twitter.
Prosecutors questioned Şık about his tweets, three articles in Cumhuriyet, a public statement, and an interview, according to news reports. A court ruled that his case would be heard as part of the wider Cumhuriyet trial, which started in July 2017. According to an indictment released in April 2017, which lists the accusations in the Cumhuriyet case, Şık is charged with “helping an armed terrorist organization without being a member.”
The indictment said that Cumhuriyet changed its editorial policies, eliminated those who resisted the change, and created propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the so-called Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), and the outlawed socialist group the Revolutionary People’s Salvation Front/Party (DHKP/C). Evidence against some of the defendants includes meetings or phone calls with people allegedly affiliated with FETÖ, which the government accuses of orchestrating a failed coup attempt in July 2016. The indictment, viewed by CPJ, listed as evidence several reports in Cumhuriyet on domestic and foreign issues. As alleged proof of the charges, the indictment provided little other than the defendants’ journalism.
Şık was previously imprisoned in relation to his 2011 book, İmamın Ordusu (The Imam’s Army), which was critical of the Fethullah Gülen organization. Şık was acquitted in that case of aiding an allegedly nationalist plot to overthrow the government, known as the Ergenekon conspiracy in April 2017. In 2015, he published a second book, Paralel Yürüdük Biz Bu Yollarda (We Have Walked These Roads in Parallel), about the past partnership between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Gülenists.
Şık denied the new charges. In his court statement during the Cumhuriyet trial in July 2017, Şık blamed Gülenist police and members of the judiciary for his imprisonment in 2011. He pointed out that in 2011, when the Gülenists were aligned with the government, he was called a “terrorist” for his journalism, and now the Gülenists are accused of being terrorists, alongside him.
Şık was imprisoned at Silivri Prison in Istanbul. He was initially kept in isolation and in poor conditions, according to his lawyer. Lawyers for Şık petitioned the European Court of Human Rights in May 2017 to secure his release on the grounds that his imprisonment violated his right to freedom of speech, Cumhuriyet reported.