Turkish journalists given bail

Turkish journalists given bail

A Turkish court has released seven of the 12 jailed members of Cumhuriyet staff, pending the end of their trial.

Four other employees from the newspaper will remain jailed, including the chief editor and a well-known columnist.

Seventeen journalists, cartoonists and executives allegedly aided terror groups. The accused say they are the victims of a silencing of opposition voices in Turkey since the botched July 15 coup last year.

Those released will have to report to the authorities repeatedly ahead of their next hearing on September 11.

Still in custody are commentator Kadri Gursel, investigative journalist Ahmet Sik, editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu and chief executive Akin Atalay.

Prosecutors said they would file fresh charges against Sik for his defence statement on Wednesday.

“With this decision today they want to say ‘we will bring you to your knees’,” Sik said, according to AFP. “But they should know – I have only bowed down in front of my mother and father and it shall remain so.”

Meanwhile, his wife Yonca shouted out: “Stay strong, Ahmet, we will resist and get out of this.”

Defence lawyer Alp Selek said in his near 60 years’ experience, he had “never seen an indictment that invented crimes from scratch. I have worked in extraordinary circumstances but this is the first time I have seen such an indictment,” the veteran lawyer said.

The P24 press freedom group said 166 journalists were in jail in Turkey, most of them arrested under the state of emergency, and more than any other country.

Meanwhile, a former British soldier who fought against Isis in Syria has been arrested with his girlfriend and her mother while on holiday in Turkey after being accused of posting pro-Kurdish propaganda on Facebook.

Joe Robinson, 24, from Accrington, Lancashire, was on holiday near Bodrum when police raided the resort where he was staying with his Bulgarian girlfriend and her mother.

Robinson toured Afghanistan with the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment in 2012 and travelled to Syria in 2015 and fought for the People’s Protection Units of Syrian Kurdistan (YPG) against so-called Islamic State during one of the civil war’s most violent periods.

Girlfriend Mira Rojkan, who was released, said police officers confiscating their phones, computers and other digital material before taking them into custody.

Robinson was charged with “being a member of a terrorist organisation”, according to Rojkan.

“It was just awful. They said someone had sent them an email saying we were terrorists about to do something in Turkey. They wouldn’t say who it was from. It is absolute nonsense. They arrested us on the beach while we were vacationing with my mother,” she told the Guardian.

Kurdish YPG fighters are deeply threatening to the Turkish state. Picture credit: Flickr  


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