Turkey Journalists Freed From Prison

Turkey Journalists Freed From Prison
Turkey Journalists Freed From Prison

Two Turkish journalists charged with revealing state secrets have been freed from prison.

Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, from the newspaper Cumhuriyet, were detained in November over a report alleging that the Turkish government tried to ship arms to militants in Syria.

But Turkey’s Constitutional Court has challenged the charges, saying they violated freedom of the press. They were released early on Friday after three months in jail, BBC reported.

Large crowds chanting support met them outside prison on their release.

Dundar, the paper’s editor-in-chief, and Gul, its Ankara bureau chief, spent 92 days in prison and had been due to go on trial on 25 March.

“This is a trial of press freedom,” Dundar said. “We got out but more than 30 colleagues are still in prison. I hope that this ruling will pave way for their freedom as well.”

Pointing to the prison, he said he would continue to fight for press freedom “until this concentration camp that you see behind me becomes a museum”.

The court, which convened to discuss the journalists’ individual petitions, ruled on Thursday that their “rights to personal liberty and security had been violated”.

“Their freedom of expression and freedom of press” was also violated, the court said in a statement. The decision was overwhelmingly approved with 12 votes for and three against, Turkish media reports said.

The report that landed the two journalists in jail claimed to show proof that a consignment of weapons seized at the border in January 2014 was bound for Syria.

They were formally charged with obtaining and revealing state secrets “for espionage purposes” and seeking to “violently” overthrow the Turkish government as well as aiding an “armed terrorist organization”.

They were held in the Silivri jail on the outskirts of Istanbul.