Turkey's Cumhuriyet court-case on trial for attacking press freedom
The journalists and managing staff are charged with aiding terrorists, including the proscribed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Gulenist organisation FETÖ, but senior staff argue the trial is political.
"Embedded in the roots and history of Cumhuriyet, lie secular values, independence and freedom," said Akin Atalay, chairman of the executive board.
"Its writers and editors have been threatened, jailed and assassinated. Cumhuriyet is no stranger to government threats.
"We are here as the humble protectors of this incredible inheritance."
|Read more on The New Arab's coverage of Press Freedom in Turkey
The trial, heard at the Istanbul Çağlayan Justice Palace, opened on Monday and has been harshly criticised for acting like a 'show-trial'.
"I am not here because I knowingly and willingly helped a terrorist organisation, but because I am an independent, questioning and critical journalist," one of the defendants, columnist Kadri Gursel, told the court.
Gursel has been in pre-trial detention for 267 days along with editor Murat Sabuncu and several other senior staff, with Turkish prosecutors seeking up to 43 years in jail if they are found guilty.
The courtroom gallery was packed with supporters on the first day, including representatives from the International Press Institute (IPI) and Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
|I am not here because I knowingly and willingly helped a terrorist organisation, but because I am an independent, questioning and critical journalist
"The pretext of terrorism has worn so thin that nobody but the staunchest of government loyalists could possibly believe it," CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney said.
"Prosecutors should not be doing the bidding of the president's office to censor free speech but should be pursuing actual criminals."
The trial is expected to continue until Friday, July 28.
Turkey last week celebrated the one year anniversary of a major coup by the military to overthrow the government.
The government has pointed the finger at supporters of the US-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, citing encrypted messages from an underground network of his followers as evidence.
Hundreds of thousands of people have either been imprisoned without trial or fired from their workplace following a widespread government crackdown against dissent in the year that followed the coup attempt.
The Reporters Without Borders [RSF] 2017 World Press Freedom Index, a comparative register on each country's treatment of journalists, found Turkey to be the "biggest prison for media personnel".
Turkey ranks 155 on the latest RSF world press freedom index, below Belarus and the Democratic Republic of Congo.