An İstanbul court on Saturday ruled for the release of Ali Bulaç, a columnist for now-closed Zaman daily, and Mehmet Özdemir, the managing editor of now-closed Yeni Hayat daily.
9 other Zaman journalists, columnists remain in jail. The ordeal is not over. Final hearing set for 7-8 June.
Zaman journalists are facing “terrorism” and “coup-plotting” charges due to having worked and written for the Zaman daily, which was linked to the Gülen movement, which Turkish authorities accuse of being behind a failed coup in 2016.
The Zaman daily was first seized by the Turkish government on March 4, 2016 and then closed down by government decree in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
The daily widely covered judicial investigations into corruption allegations and illegal arms shipments to jihadists in Syria, which rattled the government of then-Prime Minister and now President Erdoğan.
A total of 30 defendants are named in the indictment, 21 of whom are in jail. Mümtaz’er Türköne, Şahin Alpay, Ali Bulaç, Ahmet Metin Sekizkardeş, Ahmet Turan Alkan, Alaattin Güner, Cuma Kaya, Faruk Akkan, Hakan Taşdelen, Hüseyin Belli, Hüseyin Turan, İbrahim Karayeğen, İsmail Küçük, Mehmet Özdemir, Murat Avcıoğlu, Mustafa Ünal, Onur Kutlu, Sedat Yetişkin, Şeref Yılmaz, Yüksel Durgut and Zafer Özsoy have been in pretrial detention for 22 months as the judges repeatedly rejected challenges to their detention despite the fact that there was no reason to keep them in jail pending trial.
Ahmet İrem, Ali Hüseyinçelebi, Süleyman Sargın, Osman Nuri Arslan, Osman Nuri Öztürk, Lalezer Sarıibrahimoğlu, Nuriye Ural and Orhan Kemal Cengiz are also named as suspects in the indictment, but they are being tried without detention. Professor İhsan Duran Dağı, who used to work as a columnist for Zaman, is cited as a fugitive in the indictment.
İstanbul 13. Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi #ZamanDavası’ndan 22 aydır tutuklu yazar #AliBulaç & Zaman Gazetesi yazı işleri müdürü #MehmetÖzdemir’in oyçokluğuyla tahliyesine karar verdi. #ŞahinAlpay’ın ev hapsi karakola imza zorunluluğuna dönüştürüldü. Son savunmalar 7-8 Haziran’da sürecek pic.twitter.com/PS95rRTMuk
— RSF Türkçe (@RSF_tr) May 11, 2018