Turkey revokes arrest warrant for newspaper owner

A Turkish court has revoked a warrant for the arrest of Burak Akbay, the owner of the secularist Sözcü newspaper, on the grounds that Akbay has a right to a fair trial, Sözcü newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Akbay, who is believed to be abroad, faces up to 30 years in jail over charges of supporting terrorism. The court handed prison sentences last month to six journalists, including Sözcü’s editor-in-chief Metin Yılmaz, and columnists Emin Çölaşan and Necati Doğru, for aiding the Gülen movement, a religious group Turkey accuses of orchestrating a coup attempt in 2016. 

The court said Akbay sincerely wished to return to Turkey and attend the hearings to defend himself, in an official response to an appeal submitted by Akbay’s lawyers.

It also said the arrest warrant violated the right to a free trial stipulated in the European Convention on Human Rights, adding that Akbay had also been unable to perform his “religious duties” after his father’s death in March as he could not return to Turkey for the funeral due to the arrest warrant. 

“As we have been saying since the beginning (of the legal process), arrest warrants issued for my client Burak Akbay were totally unlawful and did not base on evidence,” his lawyer told Sözcü daily.