Nine people were arrested on Nov. 5 in a probe that targeted Cumhuriyet, one of Turkey’s oldest and most-respected newspapers.
Those arrested were Murat Sabuncu, the daily’s editor in chief, IPI Board Member Kadri Gürsel, caricature artist Musa Kart, and Cumhuriyet Foundation board members Güraz Tekin Öz, Mustafa Kemal Güngör, Turhan Günay, Hakan Kara, Önder Çelik and Bülent Utku.
Columnists Hikmet Çetinkaya and Aydın Engin were relased on probation and were banned from traveling abroad.
Executives and columnists of Cumhuriyet were detained in a series of raids on their homes early on Oct. 31, after prosecutors initiated a probe against them on “terrorism” charges.
The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office said the operation was based on accusations that the suspects were “committing crimes on behalf of the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).”
The arrests came a day after three more prosecutors were assigned to the probe, amid official confirmation that the original prosecutor of the investigation is currently under trial over links to the Gülen movement, widely believed to be behind July 15 coup attempt.
Turkish legal authorities have appointed Istanbul deputy chief prosecutors Hasan Yılmaz and Zafer Koç, along with terror bureau prosecutor Özgür Metin, to the investigation probing the Cumhuriyet journalists.
The three newly appointed prosecutors will reportedly help the dossier’s main prosecutor, Murat İnam, take the suspects’ testimonies.
İnam was one of the 54 suspects charged with carrying out the Selam-ı Tevhid probe against military personnel, civil servants and politicians in 2011. That probe is believed to have been carried out by prosecutors linked to the U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, and İnam faces charges over Gülen links, though he is still assigned to the Cumhuriyet case for now.
Yılmaz previously handled the case of Uğur Kurt, who was hit by a stray bullet fired by police officer Sezgin Korkmaz as he was attending a funeral service at a Cemevi, an Alevi house of worship, in the restive Okmeydanı neighborhood on May 22, 2014.
Koç, meanwhile, is currently carrying out the investigation into the bogus Ergenekon coup plot case, while Metin was working in the Tokat Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office before being assigned to Istanbul.