Charges include claims that Cumhuriyet journalists helped the separatist Kurdistan Workers party and Gülen movement

The trial of 17 reporters and executives from Cumhuriyet, one of Turkey’s last standing opposition newspapers, is set to begin on Monday with rights activists decrying the continuing muzzling of free speech in one of the world’s largest jailers of journalists.

The charges include accusations that the newspaper’s journalists aided the separatist Kurdistan Workers party (PKK) and the Fethullah Gülen movement, which is widely believed in Turkey to have orchestrated last year’s coup attempt, and complaints of irregularities in the elections of the organisation’s board of executives.

Rights activists say the trial is an assault on freedom of expression and the accusations are absurd, because Cumhuriyet, the country’s newspaper of record that is committed to secularism, has long warned of the dangers of the Gülen movement, which itself has long been at odds with the PKK.

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