Turkish court releases journalists accused of revealing state secrets

(Updated with the court decision)

The Turkish court ruled in favour of the release of journalists, T24 reported. 

Out of seven journalists tried on Wednesday, they were all acquitted on "revealing state secrets." Also all seven journalists also released from detention.

Turkish prosecutors demanded a 19 year sentence for reporters who reported on the funeral of a member of the Turkish intelligence service who died in Libya, Artigercek reported on Wednesday.

Odatv news director Barış Terkoğlu, Barış Pehlivan and volunteer reporter Hülya Kılınç as well as Murat Ağırel from Yenicag were arrested over exposing the identity of an intelligence official after the news outlet published footage of the funeral in the western province of Manisa in March.

According to local reports, the journalists separately face up to 19 years in prison on two separate charges, violating Article 329 of the Turkish Penal Code on the “Disclosure of Information Relating to the Security and Political Interests of the State” and Article 27 of the Law on MİT, which states that “those who obtain documents and information concerning the MİT’s duties and operations shall be sentenced.”

Prosecutors demanded Barış Pehlivan, Hülya Kılınç and Murat Ağırel from Yenicag newspaper to stay in jail. Terkoğlu, released from the jail in May, at the courthouse speaking to the reporters said the funeral was already written about in advance and the reasons reporters are being held in jail in a way to torture them.

Critics point out that the identity of the intelligence official had already been revealed by opposition Good Party Istanbul deputy Ümit Özdağ at a press conference in parliament that was broadcast online at the time, and publishing the news was therefore not adding any new information.

Yeni Yaşam’s managing editor Ferhat Çelik, his editor Aydın Keser and OdaTV editor Terkoğlu were released from police custody on the first day of a trial of seven journalists accused of violating state intelligence laws in June.

Turkish authorities blocked access to news website OdaTV in March after it reported the funeral. Thousands of websites are blocked in Turkey and scores of journalists in prison.