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Turkish court rules for release of former opposition deputy after 489 days in jail

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A high criminal court in İstanbul has ruled for the release of former main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Eren Erdem after he spent 489 days in jail on terrorism charges, Turkish media reports said.

Erdem was first arrested in June 2018, just five days after he failed to secure a seat in the legislature in the parliamentary elections. Charged with “aiding a terrorist organization,” he faced a prison sentence of between nine and 22 years.

In March he was handed down a prison sentence of four years, two months on charges of aiding a terrorist organization without membership in it.

His trial was held at the İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court, and he was jailed in İstanbul’s notorious Silivri Prison.

The court’s decision on Erdem followed the publication in the Official Gazette on Oct. 17 of the Code on Criminal Procedure and the Law Amending Certain Laws, which contains regulations in line with the objectives and targets determined within the scope of Turkey’s “Judicial Reform Strategy.”

The law enables individuals who were sentenced to terms in prison under five years to appeal the court rulings on their convictions.

With the newly enacted law, the judicial processes of tens of thousands of people are expected to be affected.

The court decided to release Erdem considering time served and the length of an appeal proceeding.

An İstanbul prosecutor had been conducting an investigation into Erdem’s work as a journalist while he was editor-in-chief of Karşı, a daily newspaper critical of the government.

Erdem had been accused of “aiding a terrorist organization without membership in it,” “revealing the identity of a secret witness” and “violating the confidentiality of a criminal investigation” in an indictment approved by the court in May 2018.

The Karşı daily had published wiretaps of suspects in a police investigation into then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s close circle on accusations of bribery and corruption in 2013.

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