3 journalists released pending trial, 3 kept in jail for reporting intel officer’s killing in Libya: report

İstanbul's Çağlayan Courthouse.

A trial started on Wednesday for seven Turkish journalists charged with revealing state secrets in their coverage of the death of a Turkish intelligence officer in Libya, during which three of them were released pending trial and three were sent back to jail, Al Jazeera reported.

The court released pending trial Barış Terkoğlu, Ferhat Çelik and Aydın Keser, who had been in jail since early March, according to Turkish media.

Three others, Barış Pehlivan and Hülya Kılınç from the OdaTV news website, and Murat Ağırel from the Sözcü daily, were remanded into custody.

The seventh defendant, Erk Acarer, is out of the country and is being tried in absentia.

Dozens of people gathered outside the courthouse in Istanbul to show solidarity with the journalists on Wednesday.

An eighth defendant, a municipal worker in the western Turkish town of Akhisar, is accused of supplying pictures to the journalists of the funeral of the deceased intelligence officer.

Turkey has provided military support and training in Libya to the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), helping it fend off a 14-month assault on Tripoli by eastern Libyan forces led by renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar.

The charges against the journalists center on articles and social media posts published shortly after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in February that Turkey had “several martyrs” in Libya.

According to the indictment, Murat Ağırel, a reporter for the Yeni Çağ newspaper, was the first to reveal the identity of the intelligence officer, sharing his name and photos on Twitter and referencing Erdoğan’s comments.

The indictment accuses the defendants of revealing information related to state security, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years, by revealing the missions as well as the identity of National Intelligence Organization (MİT) members.

They are also accused of revealing documents and information related to intelligence activities, a charge which carries a sentence of up to 10 years. The defendants deny the accusations, saying they were doing their jobs as journalists. (turkishminute.com)

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