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CHP report on Cumhuriyet indictment: Crimes invented out of whole cloth

 Cumhuriyet Daily reported that CHP Ankara MP and parliamentary Human Rights Oversight Commission Chair Şenal Sarıhan has released his report on the rights violations that occurred between April 3-10. Sarıhan’s report includes information on the indictments of the paper’s writers, illustrators, and reporters, which were only completed 156 days after their detention, as well as police intervention in their hunger strike at the Çağlayan court complex demanding access to counsel.

Opinion not evidence

The CHP report devotes substantial attention to the indictments of Cumhuriyet’s detained writers, illustrators, and directors, saying: “The indictment, which relies more on conjecture than concrete evidence, claims that ‘Cumhuriyethas been controlled by FETÖ/PDY since 2013.’ In support of this claim, the indictment invents a crime never before seen in the history of law: ‘Changing the editorial line of a paper.’ Citing elements like changes to the design of the paper and reduction in its circulation as “proof”, the indictment requests jail terms of 7.5 to 43 years for Cumhuriyet journalists. That the indictment, marked ‘secret,’ was leaked to Sabah Daily before its approval by the courts and even before being seen by attorneys is another record violation of rights.” The report also notes that “the indictment bears the signature of Istanbul Federal Prosecutor Murat İnam, who initiated of the investigation, but has now been revealed to be under investigation for FETÖ ties is also noteworthy.”

Threats to reporters

The CHP report also discusses remarks made by Cem Küçük on his TGRT program, “Media Critic”. On the eve of Assassinated Journalists’ Day, Küçük said: “It’s shameful that that rag Cumhuriyet has not been placed in receivership yet.” He also threatened journalists with death, saying “you’ll be killed, but legally, in other ways.”

“No” under pressure

The CHP report also mentions the pressure on campaigners for the “no” vote in the April 16 constitutional referendum and cites incidents of violence against them. The incidents cited in the report include:

  • 65-year-old Bekir Polat filed a police complaint in Adana claiming he’d been assaulted after rejecting a “yes” leaflet and telling the campaigners he planned to vote “no” in the April 16 referendum.
  • 3 CHP members were detained in Izmir for placing a “No, for my future” sticker on an iron bollard. The three youths were taken to the local police station where they were charged with a misdemeanor and fined 109 liras.
  • The Istanbul governorate forbade a Turkish Communist Party “No” rally planned for Saturday, April 8 in Kartal, citing “insufficient police availability.”
  • In Antalya, United June Movement members were fined 2,497 liras.
  • A “No” banner hung from the CHP Çankaya district building was removed by Ankara Municipality workers.

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