Turkey frees seven newspaper workers
ISTANBUL — Seven staff members of an opposition newspaper were released from a Turkish jail early Saturday pending the outcome of their trial on charges of aiding terror organizations.
A court ruled for the release of Cumhuriyet newspaper’s cartoonist Musa Kart and six others Friday, but ordered four others to remain held.
The daily newspaper is staunchly opposed to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and is one of the few remaining outlets in Turkey critical of the government.
A total of 19 defendants went on trial Monday on charges of aiding several outlawed organizations, including Kurdish militants, a far-left group and the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the government blames for a failed coup last year.
Upon being released from prison, Kart told reporters they had been imprisoned for nine months for “unjust, lawless, baseless allegations.” He said the indictment would collapse with their release.
Their families and supporters embraced them outside the prison on the outskirts of Istanbul. The terms of their release bar them from leaving Turkey.
Cumhuriyet’s editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, investigative journalist Ahmet Sik, prominent columnist Kadri Gursel and chairman Akin Atalay remain behind bars.
The Cumhuriyet arrests are part of a wider crackdown in the aftermath of last summer’s coup attempt that has led to the imprisonment of more than 50,000 people.
The trial was adjourned until Sept. 11.
People outside a court Friday in Istanbul protest as journalists who oppose Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are put on trial. The headlines read: “Freedom.”