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Akin Atalay,the paper's CEO,who has spent nearly nine months in detention,says the trial is intended both to silence Cumhuriyet and to intimidate others. The indictment,written in the kind of newspeak increasingly popular with Turkish officials,claims that the Cumhuriyet journalists prepared the ground for the coup by turning public opinion against the government. A former editor is alleged to have done so by documenting covert arms shipments to Syrian insurgents by Turkey's intelligence agency. A veteran columnist is accused of "attempting to create the impression of the existence of an authoritarian government in Turkey."
The bulk of the evidence against the journalist consists of their writing. Many are accused of corresponding with people who had downloaded a messaging app popular with Gulen supporters,known as ByLock. Simply receiving text messages from people who subsequently turned out to be ByLock users is treated as evidence of guilt. Users of the app have been sacked and arrested en masse.
In recent weeks Turkish police have detained at least 15 people for wearing T-shirts with the word "Hero",on suspicion that this was a secret message of support for the Gulenists. They have also arrested ten human-rights activists,including the head of the Turkish branch of Amnesty International,Idil Eser,and a German national,Peter Steudtner,on terrorism charges.