Publisher Zarakolu released from prison

Publisher Zarakolu released from prison

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Publisher Zarakolu released from prison

Prominent publisher Ragıp Zarakolu was under arrest since Nov 1, 2011. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

A specially authorized Istanbul court ruled yesterday to release prominent publisher and human rights activist Ragıp Zarakolu and 14 others who had been arrested in connection with the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) trials.

The release sparked bittersweet joy for the publisher’s son, who expressed concern at other family members who remain behind bars. “Only 50 percent of our job is done, because my brother, Deniz Zarakolu, has yet to be released. They depicted my father and my brother as terrorists. Now they are releasing one of them, while keeping the other one in [jail]. What can I say?” Ragıp Zarakolu’s son Sinan Zarakolu told the Hürriyet Daily News.

The court cited a number of reasons for its decision to release the suspects, including the length of time they had already been incarcerated, the state of the evidence and the probability of the qualification of the offense being subject to change, according to daily Hürriyet.

The court also decided to hold the first hearing in the case on July 2 in Istanbul’s Silivri district.
Meanwhile, Bjorn Smith-Simonsen, the head of the Freedom to Publish Committee of the Geneva-based International Publishing Association (IPA), also urged Turkish officials to dismiss all charges leveled against Zarakolu. “While the IPA welcomes Ragıp’s release pending trial, it remains concerned that he faces conviction and long imprisonment on charges breaching international standards protecting the right to freedom of expression, and therefore urges the Turkish authorities to drop all charges against him as soon as possible.”

The indictment against the KCK suspects, accepted by the court on April 3, accused Zarakolu of “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization,” as well as contributing to the training of militants for both the urban cells and the mountain camps of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The indictment also implicated Zarakolu for lectures he gave at the Politics Academy, which allegedly serves to train members of the PKK’s cadre.

The KCK is the alleged urban wing of the PKK, which is recognized as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union and Turkey.