Three acquitted in the Özgür Gündem trial

In the trial against authors and editors of the pro-Kurdish daily newspaper Özgür Gündem, which was closed down by an emergency decree, three defendants were acquitted.

The trial against nine defendants, among them writer Aslı Erdoğan, linguist Necmiye Alpay and lawyer Eren Keskin, who stood trial for accusations of terrorism in connection with their work for the pro-Kurdish daily newspaper Özgür Gündem, which was closed by emergency decree, ended on Friday at a Turkish criminal court in Istanbul.

The concession holder of the newspaper, Kemal Sancılı, Eren Keskin, Necmiye Albay and journalists Inan Kizilkaya and Zana Kaya participated in the hearing which was observed by HDP MPs Ahmet Şık and Züleyha Gülüm, CHP MP Sezgin Tanrikulu, forensic scientist Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, who is chairwoman of the Human Rights Foundation Turkey (TIHV) and was awarded the Hessian Peace Prize in 2018, and numerous journalists.

Aslı Erdoğan was not present; since September 2017 the author has been living in Germany. Less than a year before, she had been arrested together with other newspaper employees in the course of the preliminary proceedings against Özgür Gündem and was held in prison for four months. Today the court acquitted her of the charge of "membership in a terrorist organization" and an attempt to "destroy national unity". In addition, the court ordered the termination of proceedings against the author for "terrorist propaganda".

Further acquittals were given for Necmiye Alpay and Bilge Aykut. The court ordered separation of the files for Keskin, Sancılı, Kaya and Kizilkaya, as well as exiled journalists Filiz Koçali and Ragıp Zarakolu. The arrest warrant for both remains in force.