Turkey must return to rule of law – European parliamentarian

Rebecca Harms, the head of the Greens/European Free Alliance group in the European Parliament, has welcomed the release of Ahmet Şık and Murat Sabuncu, but urged Turkey as a whole to return to the rule of law.

“I welcome the Court's decision to release journalists Ahmet Şık and Murat Sabuncu,” she said. “The decision was overdue after more than one year of unlawful detention. My joy and relief is clouded by the fact that managing director Akin Atalay is still in prison. I urge that Akin Atalay be released from prison as well, and I consider the charges of terrorist support to be constructed and untenable.”

Harms had been present in the courtroom in Silivri where Şık, Sabuncu and other journalists from Cumhuriyet newspaper were being tried.

"With all the international trial observers from human rights and journalism organisations, I share the demand that Turkey must return to the rule of law,” she said. “Despite all the joy of the release, we must not forget that more than 200 journalists, authors and staff of Turkish media continue to be detained. There is still no normalisation or a return to the rule of law, as is also shown by the intensification of the charges against editor-in-chief Can Dündar.”

Harms emphasised that the European Union should remain aware of how far the rule of law had deteriorated in Turkey.

“The European Union and the Council of Europe must respect decisions such as yesterday's, but must not close their eyes to the deterioration of the rule of law,” she said.

“That would be a betrayal for those who courageously advocate the rule of law in Turkey."