Journalist accused of terror links freed from jail in Turkey.
ARAB NEWS Journalists hold copies of Cumhuriyet hours before Kadri
Gursel, a columnist for Cumhuriyet, Turkey's main opposition
newspaper, being released from Silivri prison outside Istanbul, on Sept.
25, 2017. (AP) ISTANBUL: A court in Istanbul has ordered the release
from prison on bail of a leading Turkish journalist accused of having
links to terrorist organizations. Kadri Gursel, a columnist and
editorial director at the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, was freed on
Monday night after 11 months in Silivri jail in Istanbul. The court
ruled that four other detained Cumhuriyet staff must remain behind bars
while their trial continues. "There is nothing to celebrate because
several Cumhuriyet journalists are still facing unfair and baseless
accusations," Gursel said after his release. "Their freedoms
have been taken away." He said he would continue his journalistic
work despite difficult conditions for media freedom in Turkey. Gursel
and the other journalists are charged with having links to terrorism
through their coverage of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK),
the ultra-left Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front
(DHKP-C), and the movement of Fethullah Gulen, the US-based cleric
accused by Ankara of being behind last year's coup attempt. Their
trial began in July and continues on Oct. 31. Gonenc Gurkaynak, a lawyer
in Istanbul, said Gursel's release did not mean justice in Turkey
had been fully delivered. "As a British statesman famously said,
justice delayed is justice denied," he told Arab News.
"Instead of cheering his release, we should all feel shame and be
astonished for every day he spent in jail for the past year."
Steven M. Ellis, director of advocacy and communications at the
International Press Institute, where Gursel is a board member, said his
release was a step forward. "We're extremely glad that Kadri
Gursel was released, but equally disappointed our other colleagues were
not," he said. "Monday's proceedings, with a parade of
witnesses offering irrelevant commentary instead of facts, demonstrated
again how absurd this case is," and the ruling was a further
reminder of the pressure on press freedom in Turkey. However, the
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says most of those imprisoned are
not journalists, but terrorists. "Many of them have been involved
in bombing incidents or burglary," he said in New York last week.
With 171 journalists behind bars, Turkey ranks 155 out of 179 in the
2017 World Press Freedom Index of Reporters Without Borders. The
Cumhuriyet trial is being closely followed by international observers
and EU representatives, because Turkey has been a candidate country for
the EU since 1999 and must meet accession criteria for press freedom.
Laura Batalla, secretary-general of the European Parliament Turkey
Forum, said Gursel's release was a sign of hope to other imprisoned
journalists. "Justice should be applied fairly and impartially in
the trials of all those accused. The space for freedom of speech is
worryingly shrinking in Turkey and it needs to be protected now more
than ever," she told Arab News. Before Monday's trial,
pro-government newspapers Star and Aksam reported on Twitter that all
the Cumhuriyet journalists would remain in prison. Both newspapers
deleted the tweets, but the court lodged a criminal complaint against
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