Turkish court defies higher ruling to uphold verdict in Cumhuriyet retrial

ISTANBUL — More than three years after the prosecution of journalists and other employees of Turkey’s opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper began, a Turkish court upheld its conviction of 12 former staff members and acquitted one in a retrial Thursday.

The decision continues a legal saga that has seen defendants in and out of prison on various terror-related charges, and the case will now be sent to an appeals court despite a September ruling by a higher court overturning convictions against the former newspaper employees.

Journalist Kadri Gursel was acquitted in Thursday’s decision, while the other 12 journalists will face charges stemming from their reporting and contacts with alleged members of terrorist organizations ranging from far-left groups to Kurdish activists and supporters of the movement led by exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, which the Turkish state claims orchestrated a July 2016 coup attempt.

Erol Onderoglu, the Turkey representative for Reporters Without Borders, attended the trial and said the reversal of a Supreme Court of Cassation verdict by a lower court revealed “inter-institutional fighting” in the Turkish judicial system.

“This is an outrageous decision, showing clearly that the Cumhuriyet trial is no longer concerning journalists but is now a part of a huge discussion and huge dispute in the Turkish high judiciary,” Onderoglu told Al-Monitor.

He added, “It is not about the obvious violations of media freedom in Turkey.”

Read the full story on Al Monitor.