A Turkish court on Friday evening decided to release Cumhuriyet daily Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu and journalist Ahmet Şık while ruling for a continuation of the imprisonment of another defendant in the same trial, Cumhuriyet CEO Akın Atalay.
“The days when we will be happy are ahead. Because this mafia reign will end. This mafia reign will go to the place it deserves. We will be happy then,” Şık commented to the media when he was released from Silivri Prison.
“Our release does not mean things have changed in Turkey regarding freedom of speech,” Sabuncu told reporters after his release.
Şık and Sabuncu have been behind bars for around 500 days.
The sixth hearing of the trial of 17 Cumhuriyet executives and journalists was held on Friday at the İstanbul 27th High Criminal Court during which the testimonies of several witnesses were heard.
The next hearing of the trial will be held on March 16.
The charges brought against 17 Cumhuriyet employees in an April indictment accuse them of aiding the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) and the Gülen movement, which is accused by Turkish authorities of being behind a failed coup in 2016.
On Sept. 26, 2017 the court ruled for the release of Cumhuriyet daily journalist Kadri Gürsel.
Earlier, in July 2017, the court released Güray Öz, Musa Kart, Bülent Utku, Hakan Kara, Önder Çelik, Turhan Günay and Mustafa Kemal Güngör.
Arrest warrants for Cumhuriyet’s former Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar and US-based journalist İlhan Tanır are still outstanding.
The suspects were arrested by the İstanbul 9th Penal Court of Peace on Nov. 5, 2016. Atalay was detained at İstanbul Atatürk Airport upon his return from Germany and subsequently arrested on Nov. 12, 2016.
Cumhuriyet reporter Şık was also detained on Dec. 22 and arrested on Dec. 30, 2016 on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda.