Turkish court orders release of journalists Ahmet Şık, Murat Sabuncu
"Today is not a day for us to be happy, but there will come a day when we will be happy in this country," he added.
A total of 17 staff from Cumhuriyet ("Republic" in Turkish) face terror charges in the trial, which opened on July 24. Others have been gradually freed over the last year. It is still not clear when the final verdict will be announced.
The terror-related charges are put as supporting three outlawed groups through their media coverage, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) and the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
The verdict delivered the courthouse in Silivri outside Istanbul, part of a complex that also contains the prison where they are held, was greeted with cheers from supporters in the courtroom. Şık could be seen weeping with emotion, Agence France-Presse reported.
Also present were the defendants who were released last year after long stints in jail but remain charged, including cartoonist Musa Kart and columnist Kadri Gürsel.
Before the trial
Before the sixth hearing of the case started, a group that included the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies Sezgin Tanrıkulu and Utku Çakırözer, and Kani Beko, who is the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK) chair, wanted to issue a press statement outside the courthouse. However, the gendarmerie prevented them, basing their decision on a prohibition of open-air press conferences in Istanbul.
“We are here for the Cumhuriyet case, for press freedom and justice. This is fascism. We will oppose theses kinds of acts in every situation. They are illegal. Our friends have been in prison for more than 500 days,” the CHP deputy Tanrıkulu said.
MIT trucks case takes a turn
In a separate development, Turkey’s top appeals court, also on March 9, quashed the verdict of Cumhuriyet’s former editor-in-chief Can Dündar who was sentenced to five years and 10 months in jail on charges of revealing state secrets in 2016.
Dündar has fled Turkey and is now based in Germany.
Turkey was ranked as the country where the most journalists are imprisoned in the world for a second consecutive year, followed by China and Egypt, according to the latest annual report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released on Dec. 13, 2017.