Turkish court released Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar and the daily’s Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gül on Feb. 26, after Turkey’s Constitutional Court decided that fundamental rights of the journalists were violated.
Dündar and Gül were in prison for 92 days, after being detained of terrorism charges for a news story covering “intel truck” bound for Syria, accused of espionage threatening state security and supporting an armed terrorist organization.
Istanbul 14th Court of Serious Crimes subjected the journalists to an overseas travel ban, despite its decision to release them.
“A birtday present to Erdoğan”
The journalists were welcomed by a group of supporters and their families as well as main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies, in front of the Silivri Prison.
“Sorry for keeping you waiting this long. You know, the 26th is President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan’s birthday. We are happy to celebrate his birthday with this release decision” Dündar told reporters outside the Silivri prison. Dündar was arrested on his wedding anniversary.
“The Constitutional Court’s ruling today opened the way, not just for us, but for all our colleagues in terms of press freedoms and freedom of expression” Dündar said, praising the court decision as “historic” for freedom of expression in Turkey.
“This is a case of freedom of press. We have up to 30 colleagues in prison. We will fight until this concentrarion camp [Silivri prison] is turned into a museum” he vowed.
Erdem Gül called on for solidarty to fight pressure against journalists and probes against press members.
“The price we have paid was nothing”
“We do not hold a grudge, we are not angry, but we are very determined to fight. We will continue to defend ourselves and our voices will be louder” he added.
“The price we have paid was nothing compared to other Turkish journalists” Cumhuriyet’s Editor-in-Chief said, referring to the assassination of Abdi İpekçi, editor-in-chief of daily Milliyet.
The indictment was carrying penal servitude for life, life sentence in prison and 30 years in prison for daily Cumhuriyet’s two journalists.
They have demanded their release on the grounds that their pre-trial arrests were against the constitution.