Turkish court rules for release of journalist arrested for reporting on judicial corruption

Journalist Furkan Karabay

An İstanbul court on Monday decided for the release from jail of a journalist who was arrested in late December for reporting on alleged corruption in the judiciary based on court documents that are publicly available, Turkish Minute reported, citing BBC Turkish edition.

Furkan Karabay, an editor for Gerçek Gündem who was detained on December 28 for reporting on allegations of corruption implicating the judiciary, was arrested the following day.

He was accused of “targeting officials fighting against terrorism” and “libel” over a news report based on the official minutes of a hearing and sent to Marmara Prison in İstanbul, where most of Turkey’s political prisoners are jailed.

The journalist’s lawyers objected to his arrest by submitting a petition on January 2 to the İstanbul court that ruled for his arrest.

The court approved the lawyers’ request for their client’s release on Monday, and Karabay was expected to be released later in the day.

The lawyers told the İstanbul court that their client must be released immediately because his arrest is against the law and disproportionate to the charges filed against him.

They said even if Karabay gets the maximum sentence of three years at the end of his trial, he will not be sent to prison because of the length of the sentence.

For some crimes when the maximum sentence is less than three years, people are not sent to jail and their sentences are suspended, according to Turkey’s criminal laws.

The lawyers also said journalists who have faced similar charges were acquitted and that Karabay wrote his report based on information in publicly available sources.

Karabay was previously detained and released under judicial supervision for another report on allegations of judicial corruption.

The news report that led to his previous detention concerned a letter sent by İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor İsmail Uçar, who exposed an alleged network of bribery within the judiciary.

Addressed to the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK), Uçar’s letter had detailed alleged bribery, nepotism and other irregularities in the system.

Karabay’s social media posts about the matter were censored by the authorities.

Turkey, which is known as one of the top jailers of journalists in the world, ranks 165th among 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2023 World Press Freedom Index, which was announced in early May.

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