ANKARA – Police in Turkey detained the editor and several writers of opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet amid a crackdown on media after the failed military coup in July.
Murat Sabuncu, the editor Turkey’s oldest secular paper Cumhuriyet, and eight other newspaper staff were detained on Monday, including columnists Aydin Engin and Guray Oz, state news agency Anadolu reported.
Arrest warrants were also issued for other staff, including Cumhuriyet’s previous editor Can Dundar, who resigned in August after being sentenced to five years in prison for revealing state secrets involving Turkey’s operations in Syria. He fled Turkey when he was freed pending an appeal.
The journalists are suspected of links to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused of plotting the coup, as well as Kurdish militants.
A few copies of Monday’s edition had been left at the gates of Cumhuriyet’s premises. The headline read simply: “Coup against opposition.”
The story was about the suspension of thousands of civil servants and other laws introduced under emergency decrees. Only hours afterwards, the editor-in-chief and several writers were detained and arrest warrants issued for over a dozen of the paper’s executives.
An investigation into Cumhuriyet executives was launched in August amid allegations that some of its reports had legitimised the coup attempt.
Over the weekend, 15 other media outlets were closed and 10,000 civil servants were dismissed. Those targeted include academics, teachers, health workers, prison guards and forensics experts.
Turkey is currently under a state of emergency, imposed after the failed coup three months ago, in which more than 270 people died.
The government argues that Mr Gulen’s network of followers is so vast that a wholesale purge is needed.
On the other hand, critics have accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of using an emergency law imposed after the coup attempt to silence opponents. Since then, a total of about 110,000 people have been sacked or suspended and 37,000 arrested.
Cumhuriyet is one of the last few remaining opposition papers in Turkey. It was awarded the Freedom of the Press prize by Reporters Without Borders last year and received the Right Livelihood Award, known as the alternative Nobel Peace Prize.