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Court orders Yuruyus journalists' release

(BIANET/IFEX) - 20 July 2012 - The Ankara 11th High Criminal Court ruled to release Yuruyus magazine journalists Cihan Gun, Naciye Yavuz, Kaan Unsal, Musa Kurt and Halit Gudenoglu during the third hearing of the case. The five journalists have spent a year and a half behind bars on terrorism-related charges.

The court cited the classification of the offense in question, the current state of the evidence and the amendments that came into force following the ratification of the Third Judicial Reform Package by Parliament and President Abdullah Gul on July 2 in its verdict.

The court had earlier released Gulsum Yildiz, Nejla Can and Mehmet Ali Ugurlu, all of whom were under arrest pending trial, during the first hearing of the case on Jan. 13. Abdullah Ozgun, Hatice Ruken Kilic and Remzi Ucucu continued serving time behind bars upon the court's orders, however.

Officials first detained the journalists on Jan. 24, 2010 during a raid of the offices of Yuruyus magazine, when law enforcement officials broke the office doors and seized nearly 2,000 books. The indictment prepared by prosecutor Kubilay Tastan and accepted by Chief Justice Dundar Orsdemir implicated the suspects on the charge of “being a member of a terrorist organization” as stipulated in the fifth article of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK.)

The first hearing of the case took place an entire 13 months after the journalists first landed in Sincan F-type Prison. Their appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in relation to the prolonged extent of their imprisonment and an order of secrecy over their file that remained in place for 10 months is still awaiting a conclusion.

Prosecutor Mehmet Ozgur demanded the suspects' continued arrest during Friday's hearing, while defendant lawyer Selcuk Kozagacli requested their release, arguing that the courts were passing politically motivated verdicts to enforce the decisions of the government.

Chief Justice Orsdemir ruled for their release, however, and requested the suspects' phone records during the investigation and the communication fact-finding report 

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