Yet he has a serious mission in hand, not least to ensure that Cumhuriyet keeps publishing. He expresses frustration that he had been editor in chief for only two months when he was sent to jail for a year and a half.
He starts his day at 6 a.m., reading the papers in a cafe on the water’s edge of the Bosporus, and checks the last editions from home at midnight.
The newspaper started a successful weekend print supplement while he was in jail, but his arrest delayed development of the paper’s online edition, which is critical to its financial survival.
Cumhuriyet’s print circulation has fallen to around 40,000, partly, editors say, because the climate of fear is such that people do not want to be seen reading it. Yet close to a million people read the online edition, editors say.
Mr. Sabuncu said his chief concern was for the many others still in jail, and for the country he loves. “From the very beginning, we have been saying that it is more than Cumhuriyet,” he said.
In jail he realized that Turkey had become a divided and joyless place, but he said he believed Turks would change that. Even Mr. Erdogan’s supporters are tired of his divisive politics, Mr. Sabuncu said, and the support for Mr. Gul’s candidacy is a sign of dissent within Mr. Erdogan’s party.
“Ruling by fear, everyone knows, fails, and now we are at the end of this fear,” he said. “I believe somehow Turks will turn this darkness into light.”