Journalist İshak Karakaş who was jailed pending trial for tweeting against Turkey’s military operation in Afrin was released after four months in custody

 

Journalist İshak Karakaş and eight other suspects who were jailed pending trial for their tweets against Turkey’s military operation in Syria’s Afrin have been released under judicial control measures by an Istanbul court on May 8, 2018, after nearly four months in custody.

All nine defendants who face charges of “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” appeared before the 28th High Criminal Court of Istanbul for the first hearing of the trial.

During the hearing, which was monitored by P24 from the courtroom, Karakaş said he was a journalist holding an official yellow press card and a peace activist. “It is obvious that I haven’t shared (these tweets) on behalf of a party or with the aim of propaganda,” he told the court, adding that most of his tweets referred to news reports. “I am a defender of peace and this is why I am here. Do you defend peace or do you defend war? I am not guilty and demand my acquittal,” he said. Karakaş is also one of the founders of the NGO “Peace Foundation” and has written a book, 100 Steps for Peace (“Barış için 100 adım”), on the Kurdish question in Turkey.

Speaking after him, his lawyer Yıldız İmrek said none of the tweets posted by Karakaş contained reference to a terrorist organization nor praise of violent acts. İmrek also said being against a military operation was an individual right. “A military intervention is a form of state policy and every citizen has the right to oppose this policy. Freedom of expression and the right to information are particularly important in times of war,” she said.

Rejecting the prosecutor’s demand for the continuation of the defendants’ detention, the court ruled to release all suspects under a travel ban and the condition of signing papers every two weeks at a police station. The court adjourned the trial and set the next hearing for September 18, 2018.