News / Middle East

    Turkey Frees Journalists in High-profile Case

    Can Dundar, the editor-in-chief of opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, center right, and Erdem Gul, the paper's Ankara representative, center left, speak to the media outside Silivri prison near Istanbul, after their release early Friday, Feb. 26, 2016.
    Can Dundar, the editor-in-chief of opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, center right, and Erdem Gul, the paper's Ankara representative, center left, speak to the media outside Silivri prison near Istanbul, after their release early Friday, Feb. 26, 2016.
    Dorian Jones

    Two prominent Turkish journalists have been freed from pre-trial detention following the intervention of the Constitutional Court. The journalists, who still face trial and up to 30 years in jail on charges of revealing state secrets, have become the focal point of global concerns over press freedom in Turkey.  
     
    In the early hours of Friday morning, journalists Can Dundar and Erdem Gul were released from a high-security prison in Istanbul after being held for 92 days, many of which were in solitary confinement.
     
    Dundar expressed hope the Constitutional Court’s ruling would open the way for more freedom, saying the ruling opened the way, not just for them, but for all their colleagues in terms of press freedoms and freedom of expression.
     
    Both men, from the newspaper Cumhuriyet, were detained in November over a report alleging that the government tried to ship arms to Islamists in Syria.
     
    The Constitutional Court ruled the prosecutions violated the journalists’ individual freedom and media freedom.
     
    Political scientist Cengiz Aktar of Istanbul’s Suleyman Sah University says the ruling is welcome but may remain only symbolic.

    "Those who are for freedom of speech in this country are rejoicing; but, more than 30 journalists are in jail as of today," he said. "And we’ve just learned an independent TV channel has been just banned."

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has personally intervened, repeatedly calling for their prosecution and pledging that Dundar would be severely punished.
     
    Political scientist Aktar says the threat to the judiciary remains.
     
    "Some interpret the decision of the Constitutional Court as the blow to the will of the president. We may think so, but I don't think people should declare victory," he said. "His [the president’s] office has declared that the prosecution and their case continue, which is a sheer interference in the functioning of the judiciary."

    Despite their release, the two still face possible life sentences in convicted in a trial on espionage and terrorism charges starting on March 25.
     
    Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said the president was closely following the case, arguing it was in compliance with international norms. He said officials want to underscore that cases of espionage and leaks of information have been held in other parts of the world too.
     
    The journalists' release has been welcomed by the European Union and international human rights groups.
     
    Dundar has been strongly critical of the EU, accusing it of being muted in its criticism of his prosecution because it was seeking a deal with Ankara over stemming the flow of refugees into Europe.

    The EU recently unfroze Ankara’s membership bid, despite Turkey slipping to 149 out of 180 countries on Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index.

    You May Like

    Ethiopia's Anti-terrorism Law: Security or Silencing Dissent?

    Yonatan Tesfaye was detained in December 2015 on charges under Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation; eleven statements from his Facebook page were used as evidence

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora