Turkish government has released journalists Tunca Öğreten and Tahir Kanaat from the prison on Wednesday in their second hearing in the case in which six journalists and media workers were standing trial due to their posts on social media.
According to a report by Bianet, Çağlayan 29th Assize Court has released Diken online news outlet’s former editor Tunca Öğreten and BirGün daily employee Tahir Kanaat pending trial, after 323 days in pre-trial detention, on judicial probation and an international travel ban has been imposed on them. The next hearing of the trial will be held on April 3, 2018.
In the same social media trial, six journalists and media workers are being tried, namely: Now-closed Dicle News Agency (DİHA) News Director Ömer Çelik, DİHA reporter Metin Yoksu, Yolculuk daily Editor-in-Chief Eray Sargın, Etkin News Agency (ETHA) News Director Derya Okatan, Diken News Site former editor Tunca Öğreten and BirGün daily employee Mahir Kanaat.
The six defendants are being tried for reporting on the e-mails of Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law and Turkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, which were hacked and leaked by the hacktivist group RedHack.
The charges pressed against the journalists are “terror propaganda, blocking, damaging, destroying or erasing IT systems”.
The Chief Judge of the İstanbul 29th Assize Court is Mustafa Çakar, who was also the judge of Istanbul 9th Criminal Court of Peace that ordered the arrests of the defendants of the Cumhuriyet case, journalist Meşale Tolu, Die Welt reporter Deniz Yücel and Özgür Gündem Daily’s Consultant Board member Aslı Erdoğan. Judges Özkan Gürel and Ümit Kartlı are also on the board of judges.
Meanwhile, Emin Şakir, editor-in-chief of the solyayin.com archiving website, has been arrested by a Turkish court and sent to the Maltepe Prison in İstanbul, according to a report by Cumhuriyet daily. Şakir is reportedly accused of terror charges. Solyayin.com is a leftist archiving website which contained primary source documents regarding the socialist and leftist movements established throughout the history of the Republic of Turkey. After Şakir’s arrest, the website was closed down by the authorities.
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 257 journalists and media workers are in jails as of December 4, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 231 are arrested pending trial, only 26 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 135 journalists who live 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 more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.