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Former Turkish opposition lawmaker Erdem released after 489 days in jail

Turkey’s former main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP, Eren Erdem has been released from prison on probation after spending more than a year in jail, Turkish news portal T24 reported.

Erdem spent 489 days in Silivri Prison, since he was arrested in June 2018. He has been accused of having connections to the Gulen movement, led by the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen.

The Turkish government regards the faith-based movement as a terrorist organization and blames Gulen and his followers for orchestrating the July 15, 2016 coup attempt that targeted the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Both cleric Gulen and his followers strongly deny any coup-related accusations and terror offenses.

The ex-CHP lawmaker faced trial due to his work as the editor-in-chief of critical Karsi daily on charges that include revealing the identity of a secret witness and violating the confidentiality of a criminal investigation.

Erdem was on Thursday acquitted of aiding a terrorist organization purposely and willingly without being involved in the hierarchy of the organization, a crime for which he was sentenced to four years and two months in prison.

Turkish news portal Bianet reported on Thursday that Erdem’s lawyers applied to the court and requested the politician’s release after Turkey’s first package of the Judicial Reform was enacted as law on October 17.

Although an Istanbul court on Thursday ruled for Erdem’s release considering the time he has already served in prison, a travel ban was also imposed on the former opposition MP.

“Is this your final decision [on me]?” was Erdem’s first reaction to his release on probation on social media.

A Turkish court also in January reached a verdict to release the former MP. The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office, however, objected to the decision soon afterward and a new order for his arrest was issued by a higher court at the time.

Ex-HDP leader remains in prison despite another release order

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