News & Politics

Turkey's Islamist Regime Raids Leading Secular Newspaper, Accuses Executives of Terrorism

Journalists and lawmakers hold a latest copy of Cumhuriyet newspaper outside its Istanbul headquarters after police detained chief editor Murat Sabuncu and two columnists of Turkey's opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper and had warrants to detain 10 other senior staff members, in Istanbul, Monday, Oct. 31, 2016, the state-run-Anadolu Agency reported, amid growing fears over Turkey's widening crackdown on dissenting voices. Cumhuriyet's headline reads: "The coup against opposition again." (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

It’s time to say goodbye to freedom of the press in Turkey. The increasingly authoritarian government led by president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was already one of the leading jailers of journalists worldwide, but they’ve just stepped it up a notch:

Cumhuriyet is the leading secular daily in Turkey. The journalists and executives of the newspaper are critics of the Islamist Erdogan regime, which is undoubtedly what set off these razzias.

Those detained are accused of working with two terrorist organizations: the Kurdish PKK and the organization led by Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who resides in Pennsylvania and is accused of masterminding the failed coup that took place on July 15.

As Turkish intellectual and former member of Parliament Aykan Erdemir rightfully puts it on Twitter, this accusation is “ridiculous, ludicrous, farcical, insane, asinine…” There is absolutely no way in which Cumhuriyet has worked with any terrorist organizations, let alone with the mythical FETO group of Gülen. The paper’s name is translated as “The Republic,” which says it all: it’s a newspaper that celebrates and shares the ideas of Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

This marks the real end of freedom of the press and freedom of speech in Turkey. These natural rights were under pressure for a long time, but they’ve truly been abolished now. This is just the latest power grab by the president and his henchmen.