Istanbul police detained Cuma Kaya, a columnist for the shuttered daily Zaman, on July 26, 2016. A court on August 8, 2016, ordered that he be jailed pending trial.
Kaya was not included in CPJ’s 2016 prison census because at the time CPJ was unable to reach a legal representative for more information about his case to evaluate potential links to his journalism.
Kaya is on trial alongside 30 journalists and media workers and an academic. All are charged with “attempting, through violence and force, to disrupt and replace the order as recognized by Turkey’s Constitution,” “attempting through violence and force to eliminate or prevent Parliament from carrying out its duties,” and “being a member of an armed terrorist organization.” Not all of the defendants are in custody.
The trial’s first hearing began in Istanbul on September 18, 2017, according to local reports.
In the indictment, reviewed by CPJ, the prosecution said that the defendants’ journalism, including opinion pieces or their employment by pro-Gülen outlets such as the daily Zaman and Cihan News Agency, is evidence that the journalists were part of the so-called Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETÖ/PDY).
The indictment accused the journalists—which it referred to as “the media force of the terrorist organization”—of producing false news to weaken the government, insult or humiliate the authorities, attempt to disrupt the peace, and to create an environment suitable for a coup.
Kaya denies the charges, according to the indictment. If convicted, he faces multiple life sentences, without parole.
The next court date is scheduled for December 8, 2017, according to press reports.
Kaya was detained at Silivri Prison in Istanbul.