Cumhuriyet editors Dundar and Gul apply to top court for release

Dundar and Gul were arrested on Nov. 26 on charges of “espionage,” “revealing confidential documents” and “membership in a terrorist organization” in May after publishing a report claiming that weapons-loaded trucks that were discovered in 2014 en route to Syria belonged to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and had been sent to provide support to rebel groups.

In the application that they made on Sunday, Dundar and Gul said that because they were arrested they have already been deemed criminals, despite the fact that they have yet to face trial. They also said in the petition that pre-trial arrest is forbidden by the Constitution and asked the top court to reverse the decision to arrest them, recalling that their lawyers have been prevented from examining their investigation file since a limitation was imposed on it.

‘We are like prisoners in Guantanamo Bay’

In his column published on Monday in Cumhuriyet, Dundar compared his and Gul’s conditions in Silivri Prison to Guantanamo Bay, a US military prison where criminals who are thought to have engaged in acts of terrorism have been held since it was opened in 2002.

In the column, titled “Our palace,” Dundar wrote: “The cold weather that has become worse in December has started to blow through the iron door. The hole of the toilet bowl is spreading dirt like a prison warden’s mouth, which reeks of dirt. Cold… Even sunlight does not reach the backyard of the prison; the building is so repulsive. The sense of loneliness and yearning is increasing… If you become desperate, it is all too easy to get lost, like a rat chasings its tail and turning in on itself… Above all, if you are not one of those who seek salvation by relying on faith… Then happily, you think yourself dreaming… And when you feel cold, you can get warm with a sense of being right. This is the real palace… No ill-gotten gains in it. The prison cells are small but the hearts are big.

“Years ago, I write an article in which I suggested to myself that I become used to being alone. Since then, I have inured myself to being alone. I like being alone. But here, there is isolation and what is more, the worst kind of isolation. We [Dundar and Gul] are alone in our prison cells around the clock. Erdem is next to my cell. I can reach out to his door. But we are banned from speaking. The isolation is so bad that we are not allowed to use the toilets at the same time. I think of the memoirs of prisoners, but don’t remember any writing about such a severe state of isolation. It might exist in Guantanamo.

“I remember those revolutionary prisoners who launched a hunger strike to protest the construction of F-type prisons 15 years ago in Bayrampasa. Along with a group of intellectuals, I was a mediator there. We were struggling to convince those who were about to breathe their last. They were being held in crowded prison cells but were happy with this. The government wanted to move them to cells for one to three persons. However, they protested against the move. ‘Isolation is a kind of death while alive,’ they said.

“The prison mutiny was squashed with violent methods that resulted in a massacre. And isolation cells were opened. ‘Isolation is death itself!’

“Luckily, I have three friends accompanying me: A pen, books and a TV. You write, read and watch. In the morning, newspapers come to your room; the lines of one’s friends [in their columns] help you… Those who you love defend you on TV and you are consoled. Courageous deputies and brave lawyers come to visit you and you are resuscitated.

“There are people outside in search of hope [for our release]. You feel their warmth and become warm in the prison cell. When visiting day comes, your son and wife look at you and are proud of you; the glass wall between you and them is shattered. As a result of the yearning, you are freshened. And you hear the good news that you have received a letter. All the messages and people whisper the same message: ‘You are not alone’.”

Solidarity demonstration launched in front of White House

Journalists Turgay Noyan and Aydın Engin took over the “Wait for Hope” protest in front of Silivri Prison on Monday in support of Dundar and Gul, arriving at around 9 a.m.

Engin told a group of journalists that his friends are in prison, along with as a number of other journalists. “We are waiting here to bring hope and now I have taken over the demonstration. There is a list containing the names of many other journalists who have asked to take part in such an honorable task. But, I hope my friends are released before those journalists’ turn for waiting comes. I would like to be the last one who waits here. Who knows; maybe I will be released,” he said.

In addition, a group of protesters staged a protest in Washington, D.C. in front of the White House to show solidarity with Dundar and Gul and demand their release.

During the event, protesters called for the release of all journalists who are held in prison across Turkey for their critical stance against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government. Cel Yolbulan, one of the organizers of the demonstration and who is an official from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), called on Turkish people to mobilize against the AK Party’s “authoritarian and fascist tendencies.”