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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Turkish journalists freed from prisons in Ankara, Cairo

IPI welcomes release of Mustafa Balbay, Metin Turan 

Turkish journalist and Republican People's Party (CHP) MP Mustafa Balbay addresses members of the Turkish Parliament during a debate on a draft budget as Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (rear C) and his ministers listen in Ankara on Dec. 10, 2013. Balbay took his oath of office as a member of parliament on Dec. 10 after his release from nearly five years in prison on security charges, raising hope among other jailed deputies that they could follow in his footsteps. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

VIENNA, Dec 11, 2013 – The International Press Institute (IPI) and its Turkish National Committee, as well as IPI’s affiliate, the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), today welcomed the release of two Turkish journalists from prisons in Ankara and Cairo.

A Turkish court on Monday ordered the release of journalist Mustafa Balbay, who has been behind bars since March 2009 in connection with the alleged Ergenekon plot to create chaos that would set the stage for a military coup.

Similarly, Egyptian authorities on Monday released Metin Turan, the Cairo correspondent for Turkish state broadcaster TRT who was detained on Aug. 17 following deadly clashes between protestors and security forces at a mosque near Cairo's Ramses Square.

IPI Press Freedom Manager Barbara Trionfi said: “We are pleased by the releases of Mr. Balbay and Mr. Turan and we hope that they will soon be joined by the remainder of their colleagues in Turkey and elsewhere who languish behind bars as a result of their work.”

A Turkish court in August convicted Balbay and nearly two dozen other journalists accused in the Ergenekon probe. Balbay – who in 2011 was elected as a deputy from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) but was prevented from taking office – was sentenced to more-than 34 years in prison. However, Turkey’s Constitutional Court last week ruled that the length of time he spent behind bars violated the law and his right to be elected, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

The outlet also reported that Turan’s lawyers said he was released unconditionally while authorities investigate the clashes that preceded his arrest.

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If you have any questions or would like more information about this statement, please contact IPI Senior Press Freedom Adviser Steven M. Ellis at +43 (1) 512 9011 or email sellis [at] freemedia.at.

 
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