Arrested journalists Ahmet Şık, Nedim Şener, Şait Çakır and Coşkun Musluk were released by an Istanbul court in an ongoing case today.
The four journalists were under arrest in the ongoing Ergenekon case, which alleges a plot by an illegal gang to overthrow the Turkish government.
The court stated the reason for release as "the probability of the crime's qualification being subject to change" and "the time suspects spent under arrest."
Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener were under arrest for 375 days.
The court had previously ruled against the release of prominent Şener and Şık, who have both remained behind bars since their arrest in March 2011 in connection with their alleged links to the Ergenekon clique.
“To silence journalists is to silence the people. It is journalism that is on trial here, and the principle of confidentiality of the news source that is being stamped out,” Şık said in court.
Şık flatly denied the charges leveled against him during the eighth hearing of the Oda TV probe that began after law enforcement officials conducted a search of the offices of the online news portal in February last year as part of the ongoing Ergenekon investigation.
“The situation is obvious. I do not request a discharge. I request nothing. I am a journalist, and I have always been after the truth. I never received any orders from anyone,” said Şık, an award-winning journalist
who has written books about the clandestine activities of the Turkish state.
Meanwhile, the European Union
and the United States have expressed concern over the apprehension of journalists in Turkey, with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling upon Turkish authorities to tackle the matter on multiple occasions.
“I do not think the secretary left the Turkish government in any doubt about where we stand on the press freedom issue,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said during a press meeting on Thursday.
The State Department also said it was monitoring the proceedings, according to reports.
“We have to see whether this trial goes forward in a manner that is consistent with international standards, consistent with international human rights. So that’s the standard by which we’ll judge it,” Nuland said.
Currently being tried in the Oda TV case are 14 suspects, including arrested journalist
Soner Yalçın and former Police Chief Hanefi Avcıoğlu, who has written about the alleged infiltration of the police force by the religious Gülen community.
Ergenekon is an alleged ultranationalist gang accused of plotting to overthrow the government by breeding chaos in society.