7 of 12 jailed Cumhuriyet journalists released pending trial in Turkey

An İstanbul court on Friday released seven journalists and continued the pretrial detention of five others who were jailed as part of an investigation last year into the Cumhuriyet daily.

According to Cumhuriyet,  the court on Friday ruled to release Güray Öz, Musa Kart, Bülent Utku, Hakan Kara, Önder Çelik, Turhan Günay and Mustafa Kemal Güngör and to continue the pretrial detention of Akın Atalay, Murat Sabuncu, Kadri Gürsel, Ahmet Şık and Kemal Aydoğdu.

Arrest warrants for Cumhuriyet’s former-editor-in-chief Can Dündar and journalist İlhan Tanır also remained on place.

The charges brought against 17 Cumhuriyet employees in an April indictment accuse them of aiding the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) and the Gülen movement, which is accused by Turkish authorities of being behind a failed coup last year.

The suspects were arrested by the İstanbul 9th Penal Court of Peace on Nov. 5, 2016. Atalay was detained at İstanbul Atatürk Airport upon his return from Germany and subsequently arrested on Nov. 12, 2016.

Cumhuriyet reporter Şık was also detained on Dec. 22 and arrested on Dec. 30, 2016 on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda.

Meanwhile, former Turkish President Abdullah Gül said journalists who stand trial should not be put under pretrial detention, in response to reporters’ questions on Friday about 17 Cumhuriyet daily journalists currently being tried on terror charges.

Commenting on the trial of the 17 Cumhuriyet journalists, which started on Monday and is expected to end with a verdict on Friday, Gül said: “I have always said the trial of journalists without being under arrest is what is right. I am also thinking now that it is even more right.”

Emphasizing that the verdict will be given by the court, Gül said it would decrease the national and international pressure on Turkey if journalists were to be tried without first being put in pretrial detention.

The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has also documented that 273 journalists are now in jails as of July 26, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 249 are arrested pending trial, only 24 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 109 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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