Turkey detains editor of opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet

13 arrest warrants were issued for journalists and executives from the daily.

Published: 31st October 2016 12:59 PM  |   Last Updated: 31st October 2016 12:59 PM   |  A+A-


ANKARA: Turkish police detained the editor-in-chief of the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, state media reported Monday, while the daily said several of its writers were taken into police custody.

Murat Sabuncu was detained while authorities searched for executive board chairman Akin Atalay and writer Guray Oz, the official news agency Anadolu said. 

The daily said Oz had in fact already been detained along with other journalists from the paper, including Aydin Engin, Hikmet Cetinkaya and Hakan Kara.

According to CNN Turk, 13 arrest warrants were issued for journalists and executives from the daily.

Police were searching the homes of Atalay and Oz, Anadolu said, but Atalay is believed to be abroad, CNN Turk reported. 

Cumhuriyet said the home of cartoonist Musa Kart was also being searched.

The latest detentions came as authorities pressed a massive crackdown over a failed July bid by a rogue faction of the military to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey has been under a state of emergency since the July 15 failed coup.

Tens of thousands of civil servants have been suspended, fired or detained, with the government pointing the finger of blame for the coup bid at exiled Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen.

The government has also shut more than 100 media outlets and detained dozens of journalists as it presses a purge that has come under fire by Western leaders and human rights organisations.

The arrests also came as the government fought an insurgency from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

- 'Unjustifiable limitations' -

The Istanbul prosecutor said in a statement quoted by Turkish media that the newspaper and the Cumhuriyet Foundation, which owns the daily, were being investigated over links to the PKK and the Gulen movement.

The investigation was probing whether they committed crimes on behalf of the two "terror organisations", the prosecutor said.

The PKK -- proscribed as a terrorist organisation by Ankara, the EU and US -- has waged an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984.

The daily said an arrest warrant was also issued for its former editor-in-chief, Can Dundar, who was sentenced in May by a Turkish court to five years and 10 months in prison for allegedly revealing state secrets.

Dundar is now believed to be in Germany after he was freed earlier this year pending an appeal.

The crackdown on Cumhuriyet came after authorities ordered the closure of several pro-Kurdish media outlets, including the Dicle Haber Ajansi news agency and the Ozgur Gundem newspaper, according to a decree published Saturday in the official journal.

While Turkey insists it is acting within the rule of law, organisations defending free speech have accused the government of violating human rights.

"Restrictions imposed under the state of emergency go beyond those permissible under international human rights law, including unjustifiable limitations on media freedom," Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and other rights groups said earlier this month.

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