Small win in 'Cumhuriyet' trial: Kadri Gürsel released

By Jessica Jacques

A Turkish court has ruled to release "Cumhuriyet" journalist Kadri Gürsel pending trial on October 31st 2017. This is a small win in the long battle for the freedom of the 17 Cumhuriyet journalists and executives. Four of them remain in custody.

Kadri Gürsel, Ahmet Sik and Murat Sabuncu Kadri Gürsel, Murat Sabuncu and Ahmet Sik in court (drawing by Sinan Taşçı)

More than 20 members of opposition groups including the Republican People’s Party and the Peoples’ Democratic Party were present at the trial. The former 'Cumhuriyet' Foundation deputy chairman Alev Coşkun spoke for the defence.

The journalists are on trial on trumped-up terror charges. They are accused of supporting the Gülen movement in the failed attempted coup last year. During the trial, Gürsel said, "I have no connection to the reasons of arrests mentioned in the September 11st interim decision. I ask for my release and for the charges to be dropped. [...] Witnesses did not mention me, there is no question about me, destroying evidence cannot be a reason to hold me," he went on to say.

There was a new judge present at this hearing. A judge who previously voted for Gürsel’s release was notably absent. The decision for the release of Gürsel was taken by a majority of judges who voted unanimously to continue the detainment of the other four journalists. Judge Abdurrahman said after the court session that, “The court has decided to keep them arrested until more witnesses are heard.”

Hundreds of media outlets have been shut down and thousands of Turkish citizens have been arrested with alleged connections to the Gülen movement.

Gürsel has said that his release is bittersweet when his fellow workers remain in jail.