A Turkish court ruled on Friday that two journalists should be released for the duration of their trial for subversion, a lawyer at the courthouse said.
Murat Sabuncu, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Cumhuriyet, and writer Ahmet Sik were ordered released, the lawyer said. However, Cumhuriyet said that its attorney, Akin Atalay, was remanded in custody until the next hearing, on March 16.
Prosecutors charge that Cumhuriyet was effectively taken over by supporters of Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric blamed by the government for a 2016 failed coup. The newspaper and staff deny the charges and say they are being targeted to silence critics of President Tayyip Erdogan.
Prosecutors are seeking up to 43 years in jail for the newspaper staff, who stand accused of targeting Erdogan through “asymmetric war methods.”
Social media posts made up most of evidence in the indictment, along with allegations that staff had been in contact with users of Bylock, an encrypted messaging app the government says was used by Gulen’s followers.
Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, has denied involvement in the abortive putsch in which more than 240 people were killed.
Earlier on Friday, Turkey’s highest court overturned a five-year jail sentence for Cumhuriyet’s former editor-in-chief, Can Dundar, saying he should face up to 20 years in prison on espionage charges, the state-run news agency Anadolu said .
Since the July 2016 coup attempt, more than 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from their jobs in Turkey, and another 50,000 have been arrested over alleged links to Gulen’s network.
Around 150 media outlets have been shut down and 160 journalists jailed, the Turkish Journalists Association says.