Turkish-German journalist acquitted of terrorism charges in 5-year trial

German journalist and translator, Mesale Tolu, who is on trial in Turkey on terror-related charges, speaks to medias outside the Caglayan courthouse in Istanbul on October 16, 2018. (Photo by Yasin AKGUL / AFP)

Turkish-German journalist Meşale Tolu, whose trial on terrorism-related charges in Turkey had gone on for almost five years, has been acquitted of all charges, Turkish Minute reported, citing Tolu’s social media message.

“After 4 years, 8 months and 20 days: acquitted on both charges,” tweeted the journalist, referring to the charges of membership in a terrorist organization and spreading terrorist propaganda.

Tolu, a German citizen of Turkish origin, was arrested in İstanbul in April 2017 and was imprisoned for more than seven months. She had worked in İstanbul for the ETHA News Agency, among other outlets. Her trial began in October 2017, after which Tolu was released on judicial probation. In August 2018 she was allowed to return to Germany after a travel ban imposed on her was lifted.

She was facing a prison sentence of up to 25 years. There were 23 defendants in the trial including Tolu’s husband Suat Çorlu, who was also acquitted.

The German Journalists Association (DJV) welcomed the news about Tolu’s acquittal, saying the organization was “relieved” by the news while voicing continued solidarity with all the other journalists who are persecuted or imprisoned in Turkey.

Turkey has a poor record on freedom of the press, with 59 journalists currently in jail, according to a recent report by an opposition lawmaker.

Turkey, which has dropped precipitously since it was ranked 100th among 139 countries when Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published its first worldwide index in 2002, was ranked 153rd out of 180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index.

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