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Zaman journalist Kabakçı released on judicial probation 20 months after incarceration

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Journalist Şirin Kabakçı, who used to be Konya bureau chief for the Zaman daily, Turkey’s highest circulating newspaper before its takeover and closure by the Turkish government in 2016, was released from jail on Wednesday on judicial probation 20 months after he was put behind bars, the aktifhaber news website reported.

Kabakçı was one of dozens of journalists who were arrested in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016 because they used to work for media outlets affiliated with the Gülen movement.

The Turkish government accuses the movement of masterminding the abortive coup, although the movement strongly denies any involvement.

The journalist faces charges of membership in a terrorist organization, which is how the Turkish government labels the Gülen movement.

At the latest hearing in the journalist’s trial at the İstanbul 35th High Criminal Court on Wednesday, the court decided for the release of Kabakçı on judicial probation considering the time he has already spent in jail.

The next hearing in his trial will be held on March 28.

In his defense, Kabakçı said he only did his job as a journalist while working at Zaman and had no links with the Gülen movement.

“My only job was to report the news. I am a person who acts of my own free will. I have been away from my family for 20 months. I request that you make a ruling taking this into consideration. I ask for my trial without arrest,” Kabakçı said in his defense.

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