Lengthy prison sentences for Cumhuriyet journalists

The editor-in-chief, its chief executive and 13 other staff at the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet were handed prison sentences ranging from two to seven years on Wednesday. They were convicted of spreading terrorist propaganda for the Gülen movement and the PKK. For some commentators the ruling does not bode well for the future of Cumhuriyet and Turkey. Others refuse to give up hope.

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Die Tageszeitung taz (DE) /

Cumhuriyet's days could be numbered

The rulings make it clear that the judiciary has no interest in finding out the truth, the taz sighs:

“The court has simply complied with the government's order that it gag one of the few press voices that continued to criticise the government. ... The sentenced journalists stress that the government has picked a fight with the wrong newspaper and that they won't give up their struggle. That, however, is easier said than done. Once the key figures are in prison and the government starts cutting off the paper's financial resources by obstructing its activities and using bureaucratic tricks, the days of Turkey's oldest newspaper Cumhuriyet could be numbered.”

T24 (TR) /

No progress without democracy

The rulings have dashed all hopes that Turkey's democracy can recover, journalist and author Hasan Cemal laments in T24:

“These sentences have once again made clear that democracy, justice and freedom of expression are a thing of the past in this country. Anyone who says the opposite is a liar. As long as we are held hostage by a mentality that never misses an opportunity to desecrate justice and the freedom of opinion, Turkey will never regain its balance. Nothing can improve in a country without democracy. On the contrary, everything gets worse. Peace and calm as well as political and economic stability are impossible. ... To cut to the chase: as long as Turkey remains in Erdoğan's clutches it has no future.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Erdoğan bashing is the easy option

Europe needs to boost its support for Turkey's civil society, Die Presse argues:

“Numerous civil society organisations, students, women's associations, aid organisations and secular groups are refusing to be intimidated and regularly stage actions, if only small ones, as a sign of protest. It's high time for European society and its Union to jointly show solidarity with these people and give them credit instead of taking the easy path and just getting upset about Erdoğan. ... Europe can't fight the fight for Turks who love democracy but it can actively support them. ... [Turkey's] critical civil society should not be left in the lurch because its focus on the EU is its big chance; it's the reason why it hasn't given up.”