(AFP) An Istanbul court on Saturday remanded in custody ahead of trial nine staff from the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper, in an intensifying crackdown a day after the leaders of the country’s main pro-Kurdish party were also jailed.
There had been growing international alarm over the use of a state of emergency implemented in the wake of the failed July 15 coup against critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Nine MPs from the opposition pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), including its co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, were jailed ahead of trial by the courts Friday on terror charges.
The nine Cumhuriyet staff placed under arrest after their detention earlier this week include some of the most prominent names in Turkish journalism, the state-run Anadolu and private Dogan news agencies said.
They include Cumhuriyet’s editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, celebrated cartoonist Musa Kart and influential anti-Erdogan columnist Kadri Gursel.
The suspects are charged with links to the Kurdish militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the movement of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen blamed for the failed coup bid. Gulen denies the accusations.
Like the nine HDP MPs, they will now be held behind bars ahead of a trial, a date for which had yet to be set.
At total of 13 staff from Cumhuriyet had been detained in raids on Monday in a swoop that amplified concerns about press freedoms in Turkey.
While the nine were remanded in custody, columnists Hikmet Cetinkaya and Aydin Engin were released on judicial control due to age and health grounds, the reports said.
Two other suspects — the paper’s chief accountant Gunseli Ozaltay and former chief accountant Bulent Yener — were released without charge.