Turkish investigative journalist and International Press Institute (IPI) World Press Freedom Hero Nedim Şener was released from prison today pending trial, after spending more than a year behind bars on charges of aiding a terrorist group.
An Istanbul court late this afternoon ordered the release of Şener and three others in the so-called Oda TV trial: investigative journalist Ahmet Şık, Sait Çakır and Coskun Musluk. Details of the court’s order and its reasoning were not immediately available.
IPI Press Freedom Adviser for Europe & North America Steven M. Ellis, who was present with members of IPI’s Turkish National Committee outside Silivri Prison when Şener emerged, said Şener told an assembled crowd: “When they took me to prison, I said, for [slain Turkish journalist] Hrant Dink, for justice.”
The four are accused of involvement with a news website, Oda TV, that authorities allege acted as the media wing for the alleged “Ergenekon” conspiracy, in which ultra-nationalists and elements of the Turkish security services are said to have plotted to use terrorism to bring down the government of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“I am beyond delighted to hear that Nedim has been released from prison along with Ahmet Şık and two others. IPI continues to support him and all of the journalists confined in Turkish prisons for doing their job. We will not rest until all journalists jailed in Turkey for practicing journalism are released,” said IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie.
“While this latest development is great news, we continue to call on the government to drop all charges against Mr. Şener and to free the journalists who remain in jail,” added Bethel-McKenzie.
Dunja Mijatović, the OSCE’s Representative on Freedom of the Media, joined IPI in celebrating the release of Şener and his co-defendants. “I am very happy that the journalists are free. This is a long-awaited moment not only for them, their families and their loved ones, but for all of us who have been following their trial in and outside of Turkey,” said Mijatović.
Nedim Şener: Timeline of Events
June 2010 – Nedim Şener receives IPI World Press Freedom Hero Award.
3 March 2011 – Detained by police during raid on his home.
6 March 2011 – Turkish court orders Şener’s arrest on charges of aiding an alleged terrorist group.
26 October 2011 – Şener sends IPI letter from prison: “The prosecution’s only charge against me is journalism.”
8 November 2011 – Sener spends his 250th day in prison.
22 November 2011 – First court date; judge orders him and co-defendants back to pre-trial detention
26 November 2011 – IPI World Press Freedom Hero Raymond Louw writes open letter to Turkey’s president to express “horror and shock” at Şener’s arrest and to appeal for his release.
26 December 2011 – Second court date; court reads official indictment against Şener.
3 March 2012 – One-year anniversary of Şener’s detention.
12 March 2012 – Şener released from prison.