Turkish daily holds editorial meeting outside prison to back jailed editors

ISTANBUL, TURKEY- A Turkish opposition newspaper on Tuesday held its daily morning editorial meeting outside an Istanbul prison where two of its journalists are held on spying charges in a case that sparked an outcry at home and abroad.
Cumhuriyet's editorial board and some of its staff gathered around several small portable tables and sat on plastic outdoor chairs set up outside the Silivri prison near Istanbul, images published by the paper showed.

Its editor-in-chief Can Dundar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul have been incarcerated in Silivri jail in pre-trial detention for 19 days since they were placed under arrest in late November.
Defying the cold, the journalists spent over two hours discussing what stories to cover for Wednesday's edition following a brief meeting with both Dundar and Gul in jail, Cumhuriyet said.
"As journalists, we held these meetings everywhere, from conflict areas to parliament, but never outside a prison. But everything has its first time," said the daily's deputy editor-in-chief Tahir Ozyurtseven.
"We are here to support our colleagues and reflect their opinion in our newspaper," he said.
"They will never be silenced."
Dundar and Gul were arrested on spying charges over the publication of footage from January 2014 purporting to show Turkey's secret services helping to send weapons to Islamist rebels in Syria.
They face up to 45 years in jail if convicted.
The revelations, published in May, caused a political storm in Turkey, with an enraged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowing Dundar would pay a "heavy price".
The case of the two journalists -- both hugely prominent figures on the Turkish media scene -- has come amid growing concern over the numbers of journalists and members of the public facing legal proceedings in Turkey on allegations of insulting Erdogan.
The United States said it was "very concerned" over the arrests.
Media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) launched an international petition for their release, with initial signatories including US linguist Noam Chomsky, French economist Thomas Piketty and Turkish pianist Fazil Say.
RSF ranked Turkey 149th out of 180 in its 2015 press freedom index in October, warning of a "dangerous surge in censorship".
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said he would prefer journalists to be bailed rather than sent to prison pending trial. But he has also accused the pair of illegally publishing state secrets.

Friday, December 18th 2015

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