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Turkish court releases rights activist after 5 months behind bars

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Acun Karadağ, a rights activist and teacher who was fired following a failed coup in Turkey in July 2016, was released from prison on Wednesday where she was being held for demanding reinstatement to her job during protests in Ankara.

Karadağ was arrested by a Turkish court on Aug. 21 along with five other former public servants who were also fired as part of a post-coup purge and protested with her in Ankara, demanding that they be returned to their jobs.

Among Nazan Bozkurt, Mehmet Dersulu, Alev Şahin, Armağan Özbaş and Mahmut Konuk, public servants arrested along with Karadağ, Özbaş and Konuk were released and placed under judicial supervision at the first hearing at the Ankara 28th High Criminal Court.

The court ruled that Karadağ be released at the second hearing held on Wednesday. She left Ankara’s Sincan Prison later the same day.

Karadağ was welcomed by her family together with Melek Çetinkaya, a rights activist and mother of an air force cadet sentenced to life in prison on coup charges.

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government declared a state of emergency in the aftermath of the failed coup that remained in effect until July 19, 2018.

In line with the emergency decrees, which have the force of the law and are not required to be approved by Parliament, the Turkish government sacked nearly 150,000 civil servants, about 40 percent of them teachers working for the Education Ministry, on the grounds that they had real or alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Inspired by the teachings of Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen, the faith-based movement, which is labeled as a terrorist organization by the AKP government, is also accused by them of masterminding the 2016 abortive putsch.

Both Gülen and members of his movement strongly deny any involvement in the attempted coup and in any terrorist activities.

According to data announced in late November by Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, a total of 292,000 people have been detained while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the coup attempt.

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