Turkey court orders release of 2 journalists in Cumhuriyet trial

An Istanbul court ordered the conditional release of two more journalists in the trial on terror-related charges of staff from the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper
FILE PHOTO: Ahmet Şık.
Friday, 09 March 2018 21:40

An Istanbul court on Friday ordered the release of two suspects in the controversial trial of staff from the Cumhuriyet ("Republic") opposition newspaper but said another defendant should be kept in jail.

Editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu and writer Ahmet Şık were ordered to be released, while the paper's attorney, Akın Atalay, was remanded in custody until the next hearing, scheduled for March 16.

However, they still remain charged and on trial. 

Sabuncu and Atalay have spent the last 495 days in jail and Şık, who was detained a little after the initial wave of arrests, 434 days.

Şık, already jailed from 2011-2012, over an explosive book "The Imam's Army", as part of a series of court cases that led to the imprisonment of hundreds of soldiers and journalists who were targeted by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan- U.S-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen alliance.

A total of 17 staff from Cumhuriyet face terror charges in the case, with most now free pending the conclusion of the trial after a number of conditional releases.

Turkish prosecutors are seeking up to 43 years in jail for newspaper staff accused of targeting Erdoğan through "asymmetric war methods". They are charged with supporting in the newspaper's writings no less than three groups considered by Turkey as terror outfits -- the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the ultra-left Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) and Fethullah Gülen's network.