Two journalists from an opposition newspaper were freed from prison on Friday after Turkey’s top court ruled their detention was violation of rights. Can Dundar, editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet, and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul were freed from Silivri prison 92 days after they were detained over the publication of video footage purporting to show the state intelligence agency helping send weapons to Syria.
The arrest of Dundar and Gul last November drew international condemnation and revived concern about media freedom in Turkey under President Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey’s top court ruled on Thursday that detaining two journalists from an opposition newspaper had violated their rights and an advocacy group called for the charges against them, which carry a life sentence, to be dropped. Despite their release, the two still face possible life sentences at a trial on espionage and terrorism charges starting on March 25.
The journalists’ families and supporters gathered outside Silivri prison to greet them on Friday. “We personally believed that this lawsuit was opened to intimidate people,” Can Dundar’s wife, Dilek Dundar, told Reuters news agency. “Hopefully there are better days ahead of Turkey. I hope that journalists will be able to do their jobs better from now on.”
Dundar and Gul were charged with intentionally aiding an armed “terrorist” organisation and publishing material in violation of state security. Cumhuriyet published photos, videos, and a report last May that it said showed intelligence officials transporting arms to Syria in trucks in 2014. Erdogan, who has cast the newspaper’s coverage as part of an attempt to undermine Turkey’s global standing, said he would not forgive such reporting.