Court releases journalist Şirin Kabakçı

26 December 2018

Elif Akgül, İstanbul - The now-shuttered Zaman newspaper Konya correspondent Şirin Kabakçı was released from prison after spending 20 months in detention.

Şirin Kabakçı’s hearing which was held in İstanbul 35. High Criminal Court, was planned to start at 10:45 AM, however, was delayed until 3:40 PM. The hearing was monitored by Kabakçı’s family members and three members of the press.

The prosecutor requested the continuation of detention of Kabakçı, to which Kabakçı’s lawyer Cumali Aydemir responded back by saying, “We are not surprized. There is no new evidence in the case file, and all the witnesses have stated that my client is a journalist. There is no sufficient evidence to support the ‘membership in a terrorist organization’ charges. He has been in detention for 20 months, we have brought his case before the Constitutional Court as well. The Court made a copy-paste error in its detailed ruling regarding ByLock usage of Kabakçı, which was proven to be untrue. We now have nowhere else to go.”

Aydemir noted that Kabakçı will be present in the next hearing and requested his release. After his statement, Kabakçı submitted his defense, saying, “I would like to remind you of the Court of Cassation’s criteria regarding the ‘membership in a terrorist organization’ charge. These are; code names, ciphered messaging etc. The indictment mentions none of those, I have always been a man in the public eye.”

The presiding judge requested everyone except for the lawyers to be removed from the courtroom before making an interim decision. The decision was read out loud in the presence of lawyers and press members. Court ruled for the release of Kabakçı, in consideration of the period he spent in detention, and imposed him a ban on leaving the country. Additionally, it ruled to summon Halil Doğanay, and take his statement as a witness in the next hearing, which will be held on 28 March 2019.