Two Turkish journalists, who were jailed for espionage after exposing the country's intelligence organisation that reportedly sent weapons to rebels in Syria, were released Friday. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had personally filed a lawsuit against them.
Can Dundar, Editor-in-Chief of Cumhuriyet Newspaper, and Erdem Gul, the Ankara bureau chief, were arrested in November 2015 after they published a report and video showing the national intelligence agency MIT's trucks containing weapons caught at the Syria border by the police. The report said that the government was sending arms to the Islamists in Syria, whereas the government had claimed that the trucks carried aid supply for the Turkmen, a Syrian minority.
The Constitutional Court of Turkey opposed the government's stand, condemning the arrests as a violation of freedom of the press, reports BBC. They had been charged with espionage, aiding a terrorist organisation and of attempting to overthrow the government. They had filed individual petitions, the hearing for which was on Thursday. The court during the hearing said that their "rights to personal liberty and security had been violated" and "their freedom of expression and freedom of press" were violated.
The two journalists were in jail for 92 days, the first 40 of which were spent in isolation. Their families were allowed one free visit i.e. a visit where there won't be a glass wall barring contact, reported BBC.
"But it is very strange to be allowed to hug your dad only once a month," Dunbar's 20-year-old son Ege told BBC.
The journalists, though released, still face trial in the case, which is on March 25. Prosecutors had argued for aggravated life terms for both, reports The Guardian.
"We must all continue to campaign on their behalf. We will not rest until the absurd charges against them have been dropped," RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire was quoted as saying by The Guardian.