Thousands flock to Cumhuriyet to show solidarity with arrested editors

“This is a medal of honor for Can. We are proud,” the editor’s wife Dilek Dundar told the crowd outside the newspaper’s building. “He says hello to everyone.”

The couple had to spend their 28th wedding anniversary at an İstanbul courthouse on Thursday, waiting for a judge’s decision on whether he should be sent to jail in line with a request from the prosecutor of the case.

Some demonstrators held up Friday’s edition of Cumhuriyet, which carried the headline “Black day for the press.”

“I am here to show support for my colleagues and I am proud of it,” Zaman Editor-in-Chief Abdulhamit Bilici said as he visited Cumhuriyet on Friday. “There could be differences of opinion between our views and those of Cumhuriyet but these differences are not an obstacle for me to defend media freedom, human rights and the rule of law. No one should be afraid of defending democracy, media freedom and the rule of law,” Bilici said.

Lamenting that Turkey has been drifting away from democracy and the rule of law over the past few years, Bilici said the arrest of Dundar and Gul is a yet another blow to democracy. “33 journalists are in jail in Turkey. Our democracy is regressing,” he said.

The opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have both condemned the arrest of Dundar and Gul while the US Embassy in Ankara said it was “very concerned” by the arrests. “We hope the Turkish courts & authorities will uphold the fundamental principle of media freedom enshrined in the Turkish Constitution,” the embassy said in a Twitter post.

“All opposition press organizations that are abiding by the ethics of journalism and trying to do their journalism are under threat and under attack,” Figen Yuksekdag, co-leader of the HDP, said at the demonstration. “This dark operation aimed at covering the crimes that those trucks carried and the crimes which are continuing to be committed will not be successful,” she added.

Tear gas

In Ankara, police intervened in a similar demonstration, using tear gas to prevent demonstrators from marching to the Ankara bureau of Cumhuriyet.

The crowd included deputies from the CHP, news reports said. The demonstration was organized by the G-9 Journalists Platform in Ankara’s Yuksel Street.


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