The İstanbul 25th High Criminal Court on Monday released journalists Ahmet Memiş, Cemal Kalyoncu, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Ünal Tanık, Yakup Çetin and Yetkin Yıldız, whose prison sentences were overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeals, the TR724 news website reported.
The journalists had been convicted of membership in the faith-based Gülen movement and sentenced to prison. The Supreme Court of Appeals said the defendants’ actions did not constitute sufficient evidence to prove their affiliation with the group.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup in July 2016, labeling it as a terrorist organization. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the abortive coup and any terrorist act.
The high court in its decision also said the journalists’ publications cannot be viewed as simple journalism, either, and that they constitute the crime of deliberately aiding and abetting the movement without holding membership in it.
One of the leading jailers of journalists in the world, Turkey was ranked 154th out of 180 countries in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).