Sep 09 2018

New board of foundation caused resignations in Cumhuriyet newspaper

Following the board change of the Cumhuriyet foundation, the owner of Turkey's opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper, columnists have started to resign one by one. Journalists Aydın Engin, Hakan Kara and Çiğdem Toker handed in their resignations, news portal T24 reported

Also, the new board sacked Murat Sabuncu, editor-in-chief of the newspaper, its managing editor Faruk Eren, and editor Bülent Özdoğan.

After the takeover of Cumhuriyet, Murat Sabuncu published an editorial bidding farewell to readers on Saturday. Veteran journalist Çiğdem Toker, the former Ankara representative of the newspaper, wrote her last column on Cumhuriyet as titling 'Farewell' on Sunday. 

"Neither a bond of communion nor a whim was left. I stay in allegiance to my soul: I left," Toker wrote. 

Aydın Engin, former editor-in-chief of the newspaper, also resigned, "For me, this is the end of the way for Cumhuriyet," as saying. 

Hakan Kara also announced that he had resigned with the statement: "Never give up reading the newspaper" while stressing it is not possible to keep staying on Cumhuriyet anymore.

Cartoonist Musa Kart has also declared he will not continue drawing for Cumhuriyet.

The revision of the board has also caused eyebrows to raise outside of the country. Kati Piri, a Dutch MEP and the European Parliament's Turkey rapporteur, criticised the newly elected board. 

"After raids, legal proceedings, arrests & imprisonment of its journalists, last independent newspaper #Cumhuriyet now taken over by ultra-nationalists, aligned with President #Erdogan. Is this final blow to what was left of press freedom in #Turkey?" she tweeted. 

 

German social democrat MP Martin Schulz has also reacted the editorial revisions on his Twitter account.

The new board includes controversial names such as Alev Coşkun, who was alleged to have sent anonymous denunciations to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan which were used as evidence in the Cumhuriyet trials. Coşkun was also played a role as a state witness against the journalists of Cumhuriyet during the trial ended in recent months. Coşkun now has become the new chair of the foundation. 

Fifteen staff members of the newspaper, including Sabuncu, were given long prison sentences in April in the Cumhuriyet trials, during which the prosecutors claimed the newspaper aided the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed Kurdish group designated as a terrorist organisation in Turkey, and the Gülen movement, followers of an Islamist preacher accused of plotting the failed July 2016 coup attempt.