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Reporters released pending trial after nine months in detention

(BIANET/IFEX) - 2 June 2010 - "Atilim" newspaper reporters Tuncay Mat and Çağdaş Küçükbattal were released pending trial after nine months in detention. Both journalists are on trial for allegedly participating in the demolition of a base station in the Gazi district on the European side of Istanbul.

In the second hearing on 29 May 2010, the Istanbul 11th High Criminal Court decided to release Mat and Küçükbattal after they claimed that they had followed the incident at the base station as journalists and that their prosecution was a breach of the law. A total of 11 defendants are on trial and five of them are detained. The case was postponed to 24 September.

The hearing held in the Beşiktaş court house (Istanbul) was attended by six defendants, five of which were detained, and their lawyers. The defendants' lawyers claimed that Mat and Küçükbattal were at the scene to cover the incident as journalists and that this could clearly be seen from the pictures and video records. The lawyers argued that the case file did not bear any concrete evidence and thus requested their clients' release.

At the same time, the lawyers emphasised the negative effects of the base station on people's health. They stated that it was not a crime to be against the base station and that their clients exercised their democratic right to criticise.

The court had previously requested that the Istanbul police send copies of videos taken during the incident. However, the footage was not sent before the hearing.

The court heard from a witness called on by the lawyers of detained defendant Volkan Gedik. The court decided to release Mat and Küçükbattal pending trial and to keep the other three defendants in detention.

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