After nearly a year in jail, leading Turkish journalist Kadri Gursel has been released by order of an Istanbul court ahead of trial. Sixteen other Cumhuriyet staff members have been charged with links to terror groups.
An Istanbul court ordered the release from detention of Kadri Gursel late on Monday night. He remains one of 17 people on trial charged with links to terror groups through the Cumhuriyet newspaper's coverage of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the ultra-left Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) and the movement of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.
About 200 people gathered outside the courthouse on Monday, carrying portraits of the detained journalists and banners with slogans including "Freedom for journalists" and "Independent press cannot be silenced."
"I ask my release first and then my acquittal because there's no justification left to keep me in prison," Gursel, a columnist and editorial director at Cumhuriyet, told the court. Gursel was released from Silivri jail outside Istanbul on Monday night.
Gursel is one of 17 Cumhuriyet staff members who have been charged for critical coverage of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The trial, which began in July, had been adjourned until October 31. If found guilty, some of the accused could face up to 43 years in jail.
Four journalists, teacher detained
The same court ordered that four other detained suspects must stay in jail: the paper's chairman Akin Atalay, editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, investigative reporter Ahmet Sik and accountant Emre Iper.
The court also ordered the continued detention of teacher Ahmet Kemal Aydogdu. He doesn't work for Cumhuriyet but is suspected of maintaining a Twitter account critical of the government. He is accused of being a terror group leader, and although his case is unrelated to the one against Cumhuriyet, it has been merged into the same trial.
There are 171 journalists in Turkish jails, according to the P24 press freedom group. Most of them were arrested under the state of emergency imposed after a failed coup attempt in July last year.
jm/cmk (AFP, EFE, dpa)