Turkey detains Cumhuriyet editor in chief Murat Sabuncu

Detention of Murat Sabuncu comes after closure of several news-media organisations since July’s failed coup bid.

Cumhuriyet newspaper Turkey
Prosecutors have issued detention warrants for 13 executives and writers, reports say [File: EPA]

Turkish police have detained the editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet, a major national newspaper, according to media reports.

The reports say that along with Murat Sabuncu, nine other employees of the daily, including writers, were detained on Monday morning.

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Their homes were being searched, the reports said.

Prosecutors have issued detention warrants for a total of 13 executives and writers at the newspaper, including the publication’s chairman, who is abroad, media reports said.

The detentions come as authorities crack down on anyone suspected of links to Fethullah Gulen, the US-based religious leader accused by the Turkish government of orchestrating a failed coup in July.

A statement by the Istanbul prosecutor’s office said that the detainees have been taken into custody for having alleged links to Gulen and the outlawed armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Scores of media organisations have been shut down since the government acquired emergency powers following the failed coup, including pro-Kurdish ones such as IMC TV, the Dicle news and the Ozgur Gundem newspaper.

More than 100,000 people had already been sacked or suspended and 37,000 arrested since the coup attempt.

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Over the weekend, Turkey dismissed a further 10,000 civil servants and closed 15 more media outlets over suspected links with armed groups and Gulen.

Cumhuriyet, known for its vigorously independent reporting, got wide international attention in 2015 when it reported on a fleet of Syria-bound trucks allegedly sent by the country’s intelligence agency, carrying weapons to Syrian anti-government fighters.

Can Dundar, Cumhuriyet’s previous editor, was sentenced to six years for publishing state secrets for that report.

Dundar, who lives in Germany now, has ruled out returning to Turkey until the emergency measures are abolished.

He is among the people prosecutors issued arrest warrants for on Monday.

While Turkey insists it is acting within the rule of law, organisations defending free speech have accused the government of violating human rights.

“Restrictions imposed under the state of emergency go beyond those permissible under international human rights law, including unjustifiable limitations on media freedom,” Reporters Without Borders and other rights groups said earlier this month.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies