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Cumhuriyet’s lawyer Mustafa Kemal Güngör: Operation against the entire press

Cumhuriyet’s lawyer Mustafa Kemal Güngör spoke about his nine months in detention.
Yayınlanma tarihi: 07 Eylül 2017 Perşembe, 11:40

Erdem Gül
Mustafa Kemal Güngör is also Cumhuriyet’s lawyer. It took him, as a lawyer, nine months to appear before a court and give account for himself. He later had the following to say:

-The operation is against the entire press: As I have said from the very outset, this is not a legal operation, but a political one. It is an operation for silencing and intimidating aimed at Cumhuriyet newspaper through our persons, all the press through the person of Cumhuriyet newspaper and all opposition sections of society. An operation of this scale against a press organ is a first not only in Turkey but, to the best of my knowledge, also in the world.
-I did not expect this much: Such a strange and unlawful investigation saw me entering prison for the first time. This is the first time I have been detained. To put it bluntly, I didn’t think we would be held for such a long time. Right from the custody suite, we told one another that, “They cannot place us in detention,” and we were brought before the judgeship with an application for our detention. Looking at the charges, we said, “There can be no detention in such an investigation,” but we were detained. Nine months have been stolen from our lives.
-Let’s not take it to heart: At Silivri, they initially took us along with nine people to the place called the “reception cell”. Our two nights here passed fairly pleasantly in that we both rested and chatted together. When we were assigned to cells into groups of three, we kept on saying from here on, “Our primary goal is to leave prison in good mental and physical health and, whatever else transpires, we have no guilt, we are in the right, we are strong, this lawlessness will sooner or later be exposed, let’s take nothing to heart but take the mickey out of it and drawn on the strength of humour.”

-Heck, they’ve well and truly banged us up: I was together with Bülent Utku and Murat Sabuncu in my first cell. I recall saying in bed when we woke up in the morning after the first night, “Heck, they’ve well and truly banged us up.” We were all in the same frame of mind.

-My mother was angry: I had a beard for four months in prison. It seemed simpler and more convenient this way. It didn’t have any particularly special meaning for me. After a time, certain lawyer friends who came to visit said that the long beard made me look tired and lethargic. Gülsün also found me to be ungroomed in this state and didn’t like it. In fact, she complained to my mother, who never came on visits, about this. My mother doesn’t care for beards at all, either, and kept on telling me to shave it off in our phone calls. After four months, I shaved off my beard so as not to upset and dishearten those who love me.

-I am not given to swearing, but: Swearing has an important place in daily life. There are also some people who sound pretty good when they swear. In fact, they swear when it is called for. I am not normally a person who is much given to swearing. This doesn’t mean that I have never sworn. There were undoubtedly times when I did in prison. Sometimes it gets things off your chest.

-The prosecutor is flailing and floundering: There exist no valid legal grounds in either the indictment, or the detention order, or the order for detention to continue. Yet we spent nine months in detention as a result of this lawlessness, while some of us are still detained. This is most certainly not something that is acceptable. It is obvious how much the investigating prosecutor is flailing and floundering thanks to this position he is in.
-Waiting for Cumhuriyet: I was worried about the paper while in prison. I still worry, because they want to silence Cumhuriyet with all means of intimidation. They are intent on convicting true and real news reporting and critical journalism. Warts and all, this country needs Cumhuriyet. In prison, we waited for Cumhuriyet in the morning like our daily bread. First our editor-in-chief Murat would kind of give the paper the once over, then Akın and I had a look. Following the first glance, we would take turns to read it at length and we made assessments, praise and criticism about it.

-Excitement over justice: The Justice March and the Maltepe Rally staged at its end was truly fantastic. The participation by thousands of people in this march that the CHP General chair launched and the shouts of “RIGHTS, LAW, JUSTICE” from thousands of people at the rally most clearly articulated the longing society feels for justice. I really wished I could have been on the outside and could have joined this march, tramped along and done all I was capable of. I felt great excitement. We also participated in the march in the yard adjoining our cell as best we could, affixing pieces of A4 on which we had written “JUSTICE” to our chests. We chanted the slogan “RIGHTS, LAW, JUSTICE.” It was really great.
-Long, long walks: I missed my loved ones, family and friends, my work, travel, long long walks, sitting with my friends and drinking a couple of glasses of raki, “Gayla” and our chats.
-To Nuriye and Semih: I feel respect for people who embark with patience and determination on a hunger strike not just for themselves, but for the thousands of people who have been deprived of their rights, jobs and livelihoods and for the academics who have been victimised. I also oppose forceful intervention against them. I hope that deaf ears will hear, people will be given their democratic rights and there will remain no need for such protests.

-The five will also come out: I believe that our colleagues Akın Atalay, Murat Sabuncu, Kadri Gürsel, Ahmet Şık and Emre İper will also be released at the hearing on 11 September. There is absolutely no legal basis for their detention. We have basically been under investigation and held in detention in contravention of the law from the outset. I hope that the court takes the inscription “Justice is the Basis of the State” on the courtroom wall to heart and orders the release of all of our colleagues. This will bring if only a modicum of respite to troubled consciences.

I saw Kadri after nine months
I think that the implementing of solitary confinement in these kinds of prisons has always been the biggest problem. This time, with the addition of state of emergency conditions, the situation has become even graver. Apart from those housed in the same cell, we had absolutely no opportunity of seeing our colleagues who were kept in other cells. The three people in the cell could only interact among themselves and with prison officers. There was no common sports area, sports hour or visiting hour. Apart from a total of six hours in the final three weeks prior to the hearing, we were also unable to get the opportunity to use a typewriter and computer. We only caught sight of the colleagues in other cells from a distance in the corridors on the few occasions during visits by parliamentarians when we were summoned for consultations one after the other, and we tried to greet one another. I mean, we were housed in cells 30-40 metres apart, but we were separated by as much as 500 kilometres. For example, I encountered Kadri Gürsel for the first time after nine months in the prison conveyance while we were being taken to Çağlayan Judicial Complex for the hearing.

Our washing line
On our entry into prison, we nine people stayed all together in a large cell for two nights. We were still saying among ourselves, “They cannot detain us.” They split us up into three-person cells. We met our needs from the canteen. Numbering among these was a washing line. We objected to our detention and did not hang up the line thinking they would let us go anyway. The objection was denied. We said, “They’re probably going to detain us for a bit” and stretched out our washing line across our yard. Together with Bülent Utku and Murat Sabuncu.

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