An Istanbul court on Sept. 9 ruled for the release of OdaTV’s editor-in-chief Barış Pehlivan, OdaTV reporter Hülya Kılınç and Yeni Çağ newspaper columnist Murat Ağırel, the only defendants who were kept in pre-trial detention over their reports on the funeral of an intelligence officer killed in Libya.Istanbul court orders continued arrest of OdaTV journalists
Pehlivan, Kılınç and Ağırel have been barred from leaving the country. Other defendants in the case were released in June.
“There was no crime, no criminal in this case. There was just an aim to punish our journalism life. We have been released but our longing for justice and journalism is not over. No one should have a doubt that we will continue to write for journalism and a just future,” Pehlivan said in a statement following his release.
The final hearing of seven journalists and one municipal press officer over news coverage and social media posts about a National Intelligence Organization (MİT) operative killed in Libya in February took place on Sept. 9.
Istanbul 34th Heavy Penal Court sentenced Yeni Yaşam daily editor Aydın Keser, the newspaper’s executive editor Mehmet Ferhat Çelik and Murat Ağırel to four years, eight months and seven days each.Justice Ministry probes beating of OdaTV editor-in-chief Pehlivan by prison guard
Barış Pehlivan and Hülya Kılınç were sentenced to three years and nine months.
The court acquitted OdaTV news director Barış Terkoğlu and municipal press officer Eren Ekinci of all crimes.
The case of daily Birgün columnist Erk Acarer was separated from the main case.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists had previoulsy called on Turkey to drop the charges against the defendants. The organization ranks the country among the top jailers of journalists worldwide.
Turkish courts do not generally confirm rulings to the media and there was no word on the case from the government.
Critics say President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has eroded the independence of courts and the media since a crackdown following an attempted coup in 2016. Officials say the courts are autonomous and arrests have been necessary due to security risks.
Turkey has given military support and training to Libya's internationally-recognised Government of National Accord, helping it fight off an assault on the capital Tripoli by the forces of Khalifa Haftar.