The first hearing of Cumhuriyet trial started on the anniversary of the abolishment of censorship, July 24. The trial is against 19 journalists, 11 of which are members of Cumhuriyet staff who has been in prison for the last nine months . We were at the first and last day of the sessions for supporting press freedom. 1100 applied to be intervening lawyers for the hearing and the trial has drawn massive support from local and international NGOs and platforms. On the first day of the hearing, supporters of Cumhuriyet flew balloons, representing their wish to have their friends released. The press statements by the support groups stressed that the defenders of freedom of expression will not give up their fight against the repression.
Part of the accusations against the journalists rest only on their columns or articles (accusations which are not valid due to the statute of limitations), part of them are sought to be supported by legally invalid evidences such as having phone calls with people who have used ByLock and include questions directed at the "changes in the publication policy" – which show that in fact journalism itself is standing trial. The defence statements written by the veteran journalists and staff of Cumhuriyet were each a lecture in human rights, law and journalism in their own. Despite the lawyers' repeated and detailed pleas on the unlawfulness of the cas, the court decided to continue the trials.
The court ruled for reader representative Güray Öz, cartoonist Musa Kart, Cumhuriyet Foundation Executive Board Members lawyer Bülent Utku, lawyer Mustafa Kemal Güngör and Önder Çelik, columnist Hakan Kara, the newspaper’s book supplement editor Turhan Günay's release. Editor-In-Chief Murat Sabuncu, Chair of Executive Board of Directors lawyer Akın Atalay, columnist Kadri Gürsel and reporter Ahmet Şık and Ahmet Kemal Aydoğdu who is on trial for his tweets will remain arrested until the next hearing. The case will resume on September 11, 2017.
On the other hand, the court decided to file a criminal complaint against Ahmet Şık's defence statement upon the demand of the prosecutor. On his defence statement which he had called "not a defence or a testimony, but an accusation [against the court]", Şık outlined a comprehensive framework on the political responsibility of AKP in the activities of FETÖ which led to the coup attempt.