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Jailed journalist Ünal says indictment has lost validity as prosecutor suspended

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Mustafa Ünal (51), a jailed veteran journalist and former Ankara bureau chief for the now-closed Zaman daily, has said since the prosecutor who indicted him has been suspended from his job on charges of links to a crime organization, the indictment against him has lost its validity and the case must be dropped, the Tr724 news website reported on Thursday.

Ünal, who was arrested after a military coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, was handed down a jail sentence of 10 years, six months by an İstanbul high criminal court in July 2018 on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.

The Zaman daily, which was Turkey’s best-selling newspaper, was closed down along with dozens of other media outlets due to their links to the Gülen movement, which is accused by Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of masterminding the coup attempt. The movement, labeled as a terror organization by the Turkish government, strongly denies involvement in the failed putsch or any terrorist activity.

Ünal sent a letter from Silivri Prison, where he is incarcerated, that was shared by his son on Twitter. In his letter Ünal says: “Can an indictment be taken seriously when it was written by a prosecutor whose links to a gang, fraud and establishment of a crime organization were found out by the HSK [Council of Judges and Prosecutors]? Can someone who takes it seriously be called a jurist? The case [against me] lacked any judicial grounds. It had already collapsed and now must be dropped. Since a trial cannot take place without an indictment, the proceedings and the ruling are null and void. I should immediately be given back my freedom.”

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