All 21 journalists who had been in pre-trial detention for eight months and were to be released pending trial on Friday were arrested again early on Saturday without ever having been freed, the pro-government Hürriyet daily has reported.
The İstanbul 25th High Criminal Court had ruled on Friday for the release of 21 out of 26 journalists who were accused of membership in the faith-based Gülen movement, which has been designated as a terror organization by the Turkish government and accused of orchestrating a failed coup last summer.
The movement denies any involvement.
According to a report by the state-run Anadolu news agency, the İstanbul Prosecutor’s Office launched a new investigation into released journalists Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Yakup Çetin, Bünyamin Köseli, Cihan Acar, Abdullah Kılıç, Hanım Büşra Erdal and Oğuz Usluer, allegedly for “attempting to destroy the constitutional order and topple the government.”
The prosecutor’s objection to the release of eight journalists was also accepted by the court, the report said.
Hürriyet reported that detention warrants had been issued for seven other journalists, including Atilla Taş.
The new decision came after a campaign run by the pro-government media and journalists including Ersoy Dede and İsmail Saymaz against the first decision. Pro-government journalist Cem Küçük called on Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ and the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) to investigate and dismiss the judges and prosecutors who released the journalists.
The 29 journalists, most of whom have been in pre-trial detention for eight months and who appeared for a hearing at the İstanbul 25th High Criminal Court on March 27, are as follows: Abdullah Kılıç, Ahmet Memiş, Ali Akkuş, Atilla Taş, Bayram Kaya, Bülent Ceyhan, Bünyamin Köseli, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Cihan Acar, Cuma Ulus, Davut Aydın, Emre Soncan, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Habib Güler, Halil İbrahim Balta, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Hüseyin Aydın, Muhammed Sait Kuloğlu, Muhterem Tanık, Murat Aksoy, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Mutlu Çölgeçen, Oğuz Usluer, Said Sefa, Seyid Kılıç, Ufuk Şanlı, Ünal Tanık, Yakup Çetin and Yetkin Yıldız.
The journalists were accused of membership of a hoax terror organization called “FETÖ,” a pejorative acronym that Turkey’s political Islamist government has used to smear the civic Gülen movement as a “terrorist organization.”
The indictment revealed that they are accused of membership in a terrorist organization due to their stories, critical tweets and retweets in the absence of evidence of any violent activity or the means to engage in violence.
Prepared by İstanbul prosecutor Murat Çağlak, the indictment was submitted to the court on Jan. 16. After analyzing the indictment, TurkishMinute.com determined that there is not a single incident of terrorist activity on the part of any of the journalists as they are overwhelmingly being charged for their critical messages on Twitter.