Issuing its verdict at the end of the second hearing in the case, court rules for Öztürk’s release pending the appeal process

An Istanbul court on 11 December convicted journalist Ece Sevim Öztürk of “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” at the end of what marked the second hearing in the trial into the jailed journalist.

The 37th High Criminal Court of Istanbul sentenced Öztürk to 3 years, 1 month and 15 days in prison. The court also ruled for Öztürk’s release pending the appeal process but imposed on the journalist an international travel ban.

Öztürk, the editor-in-chief of the news website Çağdaş Ses, had been in the Bakırköy Women’s Prison in Istanbul since June, when she was arrested and jailed pending trial as part of an investigation on the allegation that the journalist “shared posts supportive of ‘FETÖ’ on social media in the aftermath of the 15 July coup attempt.” Turkish authorities blame US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen and his network, now officially called FETÖ, for the failed coup attempt of 2016.

Öztürk was brought to Tuesday’s hearing from the Bakırköy Prison. The hearing was closed to the public and the press at the request of the journalist’s family.

At the end of the trial’s first hearing in November, the court had sent the case file to the prosecution for the drafting of their final opinion. During Tuesday’s hearing, Öztürk and her lawyers gave their defense statements in response to the final opinion of the prosecution, submitted with the panel in between court hearings.

“I believe in justice. I request to be acquitted and released,” Öztürk told the court at the end of her closing statement.

Issuing its verdict following a brief recess at the end of the hearing, the 37th High Criminal Court of Istanbul ordered that Öztürk be “immediately released in consideration of the time she spent in detention on remand, the sentence she was imposed, and the fact that detention on remand to be a preventive measure.”

Öztürk will be subject to judicial control in the form of an international travel ban until the end of the appeal process. Öztürk’s lawyers said they will appeal the sentence.

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