Turkish court lifts travel ban on Turkish-German journalist’s husband

Meşale Tolu.

A Turkish court on Tuesday lifted a travel ban on Suat Çorlu, the husband of Turkish-German journalist Meşale Tolu, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported.

The couple was arrested on terrorism charges in May 2017 and released pending trial after eight months of detention.

The court had imposed a travel ban on Tolu and Çorlu at the time; however, Tolu’s travel ban was lifted, a move that to many observers was made to repair Turkish-German relations.

After the court decision, Tolu left Turkey, but her husband was still subject to a travel ban.

Barely two months after Turkey allowed Tolu to leave the country, she said she had decided to return and appear in court because she hoped that, while it may end in her serving jail time, it would help get her husband out of Turkey, where he faces terrorism charges, Reuters reported.

If convicted she faces up to 20 years in prison.

“We will be sentenced together, from the same judge in the same trial,” Tolu told German ARD broadcaster. “The judge let me go and not my husband, and if I do not show up, he’ll say, ‘We let Ms. Tolu go, she’s not coming anymore, why should we let Mr. Çorlu go?’ That is an important reason, also for my son, to go back and participate in the process.”

Tolu said it was not an easy decision for her to return to Turkey. “But of course it’s very important for my son that he can also be with his father. So I have to go back,” she said.

“I think it will increase the chances that the travel ban for my husband is lifted as well,” she said.

Tolu said she could not rule out being re-arrested or sentenced. These were risks she had to take, she added. The next hearing in the trial will be held on Jan. 10.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 237 journalists and media workers were in jail as of October 7, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 169 were under arrest pending trial while only 68 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 148 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. (turkishminute.com)

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