Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey representative Erol Onderoglu and other media freedom campaigners were acquitted of terrorism charges by an Istanbul court on Wednesday.
Onderoglu, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey president Sebnem Korur Fincanci and author Ahmet Nesin were jailed briefly in 2016 after being accused of carrying out terrorist propaganda and incitement to crime after guest-editing Ozgur Gundem, a newspaper focusing on Kurdish issues. They were released later but their trial continued.
Following the court order, lawyer Meric Eyuboglu commented that the verdict was bittersweet because others who also guest-edited Ozgur Gundem newspaper had received jail sentences.
“We were thinking that they would receive a sentence because of the verdicts in other similar cases and the political juncture we are going through,” Reuters quoted the lawyer’s comment.
Human rights activist Sebnem Korur Fincanci and another activist celebrated their freedom in front of Istanbul’s courthouse.
The lawyer who represented Fincanci said that she was surprised as her clients’ were cleared by the court.
Eyuboglu revealed that Onderoglu faces a separate legal case for supporting academics put on trial for signing a letter calling for an end to the conflict between Turkish security forces and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Reuters mentioned.
“We are deeply relieved by @ErolOnderoglu’s and his colleague’s acquittal. BUT 3 years of absurd proceedings was already a form of unjust punishment. AND a new trial against Erol will start on 7 November. These charges must be dropped! #SupportErol #FreeTurkeyMedia” the Paris-based lawyer welcomed the verdict on Twitter.
With other several media houses, Ozgur Gundem was closed down under a crackdown during a state of emergency after an abortive coup attempt in July 2016.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered Turkey in March to compensate the owner of Ozgur Gundem, after finding that criminal proceedings had been “systematically opened” against it, Reuters reported.