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Journalism student arrested for insulting Erdoğan released on probation

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Berivan Bila, a journalism student at Karadeniz Technical University who was arrested on Dec. 7 on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was released on probation Monday morning, the Sendika.org website reported.

Speaking to Sendika after her release, Bila said she had written a column critical of the presidential system that could not be described as an insult to the president.

She added that when she was detained, she did not actually think that she was going to be arrested.

“When I entered the prosecutor’s office, I understood that something was up. Based on the prosecutor’s attitude, I felt I was going to be arrested. They blew the issue way out of proportion and they put me under arrest. I think it was upon an instruction from higher up,” Bila claimed.

Bila was detained on Dec .6 to and arrested the next day for writing a column titled “Journalism faculty lesson 1: Journalism is not a crime,” which appeared on the kollektifler.net website in July 2017, when several former Cumhuriyet journalists were detained due to their alleged ties to terrorist groups.

Bila underlined that she stands behind what she wrote and intends to keep doing journalism following the example set by Ahmet Şık, who was among the journalists arrested at the time.

According to the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), insulting the president carries a sentence of between one and four years.

Bila is the niece of prominent Turkish journalist Fikret Bila, who recently quit his job as editor-in-chief of the Hürriyet daily after the newspaper was sold to a pro-government businessman.

Turkey is the leading jailer of journalists in the world and is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

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