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Journalist to remain in prison pending trial

(BIANET/IFEX) - The Istanbul 10th High Criminal Court ruled against the release of journalist and interpreter Suzan Zengin at a 15 February 2011 hearing. Zengin was taken into police custody on 28 August 2009 and subsequently arrested. She is facing a prison term of up to 15 years.

Zengin, an employee of the "Worker Peasant" ("Isci Koylu") newspaper, is being held at the Bakirkoy Women and Children's Prison in Istanbul. Her next hearing is scheduled for 14 June 2011. By then, she will have been in detention for almost two years.

Zengin and five other defendants attended the 15 February hearing at the Besiktas Courthouse. Her lawyer, Gul Altay, claimed that Zengin's detention constituted a violation of press freedom and requested that her client be released pending trial. The court, however, declined the request. Zengin stands accused of "membership in an illegal organization".

The indictment, dated 16 March 2010, seeks prison terms for Zengin on charges of membership in the Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist-Leninist's (TKP/ML) Turkish Workers' and Peasants' Liberation Army (TIKKO). Other detained defendants facing the same charge include Engin Bulut, Gokhan Saritoprak, Haydar Yesilbingol, Huseyin Polat, Mehmet Pekcan, Muharrem Karagul and Cihan Sahin. Some of the defendants are also facing charges of looting, vandalising property and using Molotov cocktails. Altay maintains that her client does not know the other defendants.

"My client did not commit the crime of membership in an illegal organization of which she has been accused. Since she does not know the other defendants, there were no telephone conversations (between them) either. The articles on her seized flash drive that allegedly showed an element of crime were writings that had been published earlier. Zengin's health has deteriorated during her time in detention. She is a victim," Altay said.

The court decided to extend the detention of Zengin, Saritoprak, Yesilbingo, Pekcan, Bulut and Polat because of the nature of the charges pending against them and the body of evidence that it said supports those charges.

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