Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into the Cumhuriyet daily’s court reporter, Alican Uludağ, due to a report he wrote about a Turkish court’s decision in July to put an American pastor under house arrest after keeping him in pre-trial detention for almost two years, according to a tweet from the Turkey branch of Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
After he was kept in pre-trial detention in an İzmir prison for almost two years on terrorism and espionage charges, US pastor Andrew Brunson was moved to house arrest in July despite expectations of the US administration for his release.
Following the court’s decision on Brunson, Uludağ wrote an article questioning the independence of the court because the same court had ruled for the continuation of Brunson’s pre-trial detention a week earlier. “Is it the judiciary or the state that both jailed and released [the pastor]?” was the headline of his story. The journalist claimed Brunson was jailed by the government and was put under house arrest by the government and not by the court.
The investigation into Uludağ has been initiated based on Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which concerns insulting the Turkish Republic and the state’s agencies and organs.
Uludağ will testify to prosecutors next week, according to RSF.
The detention of Brunson has strained relations between Turkey and the US. In retaliation for Turkey’s failure to free the cleric, the US administration sanctioned two Turkish ministers and doubled tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from Turkey. US President Donald Trump had threatened Turkey with further “large sanctions” if the Turkish government failed to release Brunson and send him home.