Former Zaman columnist Mümtazer Türköne released from jail following Erdoğan ally's call for his retrial

Former Zaman daily columnist Mümtazer Türköne has been released from jail following Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli's call for his retrial. Türköne's lawyer Figen Çalıkuşu has said she believes the release came after the Court of Cassation overturned the sentence following an appeal.

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Mümtazer Türköne, a former columnist for now-closed daily Zaman, has been released from jail, Halk TV reported on Sept. 24.

The court's decision to release Türköne came after Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, a staunch ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, called for the retrial of the journalist.

Türköne was arrested on Aug. 5, 2016 as part of an investigation accusing him of spreading propaganda for the Gülen movement, which Turkish authorities refer to as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).

On July 6, 2018, he was sentenced to 10 years and six months in jail on charges of “being a member of a terrorist organization.”

Türköne's lawyer Figen Çalıkuşu said that she has not seen the case file but the Court of Cassation, Turkey's top appeals court, “must have overturned the sentence.”

“Probably, the Court of Cassation has overturned his sentence of 10.5 years and ruled for his release. He had been sentenced to 10.5 years in jail [in 2018]. He could not benefit from prisoner release law, since terror crimes had been excluded from the regulation. Therefore, the Court of Cassation must have overturned the sentence, but I have not yet reached the case file from the Court of Cassation, so these are my guesses,” she said.

The release decision came after Bahçeli tweeted on June 23 that the case of Türköne should be reevaluated. “At a place where Osman Kavala, Altan brothers, Nazlı Ilıcak and many other problematic people are trying to be shown as innocent people, the case of Mümtazer Türköne, whose brother was martyred, should be reevaluated in a meticulous way,” Bahçeli said.

Mümtazer's nationalist brother Mustafa Türköne was killed in 1979 by a leftist university student. Bahçeli recalled in his tweet that June 23 was the 41st death anniversary of Mustafa Türköne.