Although an İstanbul court on Wednesday decided to release jailed author Aslı Erdoğan and linguist Necmiye Alpay based on charges of disrupting the unity of the state, the same court ruled for the continuation of their arrest on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.
Erdoğan and Alpay have been imprisoned since Aug. 19 and Aug. 31, respectively.
Lawyer Özcan Kılıç said Erdoğan and Alpay would be released at around 7 p.m. Turkish time; however later news reports suggested that both women will remain behind bars because the court said there is insufficient evidence to rule for their release over charges of membership in a terrorist organization.
An indictment concerning the now-closed pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem demanded a sentence of aggravated life in prison for Erdoğan and Alpay on charges of allegedly disseminating terrorist propaganda and disrupting the unity of the state.
İstanbul Republic Prosecutor for Media Crimes Umut Tepe drafted the indictment against the Özgür Gündem daily, which was shut down in the wake of an attempted coup in Turkey on July 15 and sent it to the İstanbul 23rd Penal Court of Peace.
Renowned author Erdoğan and linguist Alpay are included in the indictment for serving as editorial board advisors of the pro-Kurdish newspaper along with seven other journalists. The indictment portrayed Özgür Gündem as a publication of “the terrorist organization,” in reference to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The lawyer for the newspaper argued that the criminal case against Özgür Gündem was a political plot as it was reported by the pro-government daily Sabah before the official announcement of the case.
The arrests of Erdoğan and Alpay have attracted worldwide condemnation, with many journalism and writers’ associations calling on the Turkish government to release them.