Turkish courts on Friday ordered the release of five journalists after a “judiciary package” came into effect on Thursday.
The release of journalists Meltem Oktay, Ugur Akgul, Huseyin Aykol, Emre Iper, and Idris Yilmaz followed the publication in the Official Gazette on Thursday of the Criminal Procedure Code and the Law Amending Certain Laws, which contains regulations in line with the objectives and targets determined within the scope of Turkey’s “Judicial Reform Strategy”.
The law enables those, who were received sentenced to terms in prison under five years, to appeal against the court rulings on their convictions.
Early on Friday, journalists Oktay and Akgul were first released from the Gebze Prison and the Mardin E Type Prison, respectively. The two from now-shut-down news agency Dicle (DIHA) were convicted of disseminating terrorist propaganda as they covered news during the curfews announced in 2015.
At the time, Turkish security forces and militias of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) which has waged a separatist insurgency within the country since 1984, clashed in Turkey’s mostly Kurdish populated cities.
Iper, the executive of the secularist daily Cumhuriyet, was the only jailed defendant in the Cumhuriyet case. He was convicted of supporting the Gulen Movement which is blamed by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government for attempting a failed coup in 2016.
Aykol, the journalist and columnist at critical daily Yeni Yasam, was serving his 45-months sentence term in the Sincan Prison with the conviction of disseminating terrorist propaganda.
Yilmaz, the founder, and the editor-in-chief of the local daily Gazete Yasam was also released from the Van High-Security Prison later in the day. He had been behind bars for 22 months with the accusation of being a member of a terrorist organization.
With the newly enacted law, the judicial processes of tens of thousands of people are expected to be affected.
Expression of thoughts within the limits of reporting or criticism will not constitute a crime, according to the amendment by the law on the Anti-Terror Law.
Those whose legal or administrative cases were concluded in their favor may receive their revoked passports back if an extra investigation by the Interior Ministry is also concluded in their favor.