Istanbul court acquits famous novelist of terror charges

An Istanbul court has acquitted novelist Asli Erdogan terrorism charges over alleged links to Kurdish militant, Turkish media reported on Friday.

He was facing a sentence of up to nine years and four months in jail.

The novelist was among two dozen staff from the pro-Kurdish Ozgur Gundem daily who were detained in 2016 over the accusation of terror propaganda.

The prosecutor accused the Ozgur Gundem employees of having links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

A Turkish court banned the newspaper in 2016, accusing it of spreading propaganda of the PKK, an insurgent group based in the southeast of Turkey, and deemed a terrorist organization by Turkey, European Union, and the United States.

Before being shut down, Ozgur Gundem had faced several investigations, fines, and arrests of reporters over its reports on the PKK conflict in mainly Kurdish southeast.

The court dropped charges of spreading terrorist propaganda and acquitted Asli Erdogan of “undermining the national unity.”

While two staff of the newspaper were also acquitted of several charges, the court separated the cases of six others without setting a date for the next session of their hearing.

Erdogan, who is not related to the Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan, has been living in Europe since her travel ban was lifted in 2017.

She went to Germany to receive the Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize of the city of Osnabrück in the same year. Her novels have been translated into various languages all around the world. She was awarded the Simone de Beauvoir Prize 2018.

More than 130 media outlets were closed by presidential decrees in 2016 following an abortive military coup, under a state of emergency.

Ankara’s western allies have long criticized the Erdogan government for the mass crackdown on the media and the arrest of tens of thousands of people.

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