Top court finds no rights violation for journalist in 5-year pretrial detention

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has found no rights violation in the case of Ercan Gün, a former news editor at FOX TV who was arrested in the aftermath of a failed coup in Turkey in July 2016, Turkish Minute reported.

Gün was arrested on Aug. 25, 2016 as part of a government-led crackdown on the faith-based Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of masterminding the failed coup. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the failed putsch.

Gün faces terrorism charges on allegations that he used ByLock, a mobile phone application once widely available online and considered by the government to be a tool of secret communication among supporters of the movement and having an account at the now-closed Gülen-linked Bank Asya.

He is also a defendant in the trial of several public officials in the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink by an ultranationalist youth in İstanbul in 2007. Gün angered the Turkish authorities at the time by revealing photos of Ogün Samast, Dink’s murderer, posing with gendarmes as a hero following his detention while holding a Turkish flag. Gün is accused of creating the perception of ultranationalists being behind Dink’s murder. He faces an aggravated life sentence on charges of violating the Constitution and a jail sentence of between seven-and-a-half and 15 years on charges of terrorist organization membership.

The Constitutional Court, based on an individual application from Gün, ruled that the journalist’s right to personal freedom and security as well as his right to freedom of expression and the press have not been violated. The court found the journalist’s pre-trial detention of four-and-a-half years appropriate, saying that release of the journalist on judicial probation would be insufficient.

Tens of thousands have been jailed in Turkey or stripped of their government jobs during the post-coup crackdown.

The assault on civil liberties has damaged Turkey’s relations with its Western allies and turned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan into a target of constant criticism from rights groups.

Turkey, where dozens of journalists are behind bars on politically motivated charges, was ranked 154th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

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