May 12 2018

Court rules to release two, take one off house arrest in Zaman case

Columnist Ali Bulaç and editor Mehmet Özdemir were released, while columnist Şahin Alpay was taken off house arrest on Friday in the ongoing Zaman case, where 11 columnists and staff are on trial for violating the constitution and “membership of an armed terrorist organisation,’’ German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

Zaman, once one of Turkey’s highest circulation newspapers, was widely regarded as linked to the Gülen movement, followers of the Islamist preacher Fethullah Gülen. Gülenists are blamed by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party for a series of attempts to overthrow the government culminating in the failed coup attempt that took place in July of 2016.

An İstanbul court that decided on the release of Bulaç and Özdemir, while it ruled to keep Zaman night editor İbrahim Karayeğen, columnists Mümtazer Türköne, Ahmet Turan Alkan and Mustafa Ünal in jail.

The evidence in the case against these Zaman employees, is comprised of articles and opinion pieces published by the newspaper while they were working at it. Zaman was seized by the government and shut down in March 2016.

The next trial in the Zaman case is set for June 7 and 8.