Former columnist of the now-defunct Zaman columnist Ali Unal was denied a request to be tried without arrest although he has already spent 17 months under arrest pending trial.
On Thursday, Unal appeared before an Usak court as part of the first hearing of his case in which the columnist faces 2 aggravated life sentence plus 29.5 years in jail on charges of “attempt to destroy Constitutional order, establish and lead a terror group, being a member of a terror group.”
Detained in Usak’s Esme district on Aug 11, 2016, Unal was put under pretrial detention 5 days later. Under arrest since then, Unal said during his first hearing: “I am 63 years old. I wrote more than 90 books, 30 of which were translated into different languages. I don’t know why I am in jail.”
Meanwhile, Unal’s brother Mustafa who was also detained along with the columnist brother last year was released Thursday.
Mustafa is, too, accused of membership to a terrorist organization.
Zaman was earlier closed due to its links to the Gulen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding the July 15, 2016 coup attempt and considers a terrorist organization.
The movement denies coup and terror charges, asking the government about concrete evidence to back up its accusations.