Former Konya bureau chief for the shuttered daily Zaman had been behind bars for 19 months on the charge of “membership in a terrorist group”

The fourth hearing in a trial where journalist Şirin Kabakçı is accused of “membership in a terrorist organization” on account of his employment with the shuttered newspaper Zaman was held on 26 December at the 35th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

The trial court ruled at the end of the hearing to release Kabakçı from pre-trial detention in consideration of the time he spent in detention on remand. Kabakçı had been jailed since May 2017.

The accusation against the journalist in the case is based on his social security records proving his employment with Zaman, his phone records with persons purported to be “FETÖ members,” his overseas travels, and his participation in demonstrations in protest of the arrests of Zaman’s former editor-in-chief Ekrem Dumanlı and former Samanyolu TV executive Hidayet Karaca.

Kabakçı addressed the 35th High Criminal Court of Istanbul from the Konya Prison via the courtroom video-conferencing system SEGBİS during the hearing, which was monitored by P24.

The prosecution requested that Kabakçı be remanded in prison until the next hearing in the trial.

Addressing the court, Cumali Aydemir, the lawyer representing Kabakçı, said his client had been jailed for 20 months and that there had been no new allegations in the case file. Aydemir said testimony by witnesses also demonstrated that Kabakçı had nor been involved with anything but journalism, and that this alone did not constitute evidence to prove the charge of “membership in a terrorist group.”

Following his lawyer, Kabakçı presented his defense statement, in which he referred to legal criteria for the charge of “membership in the FETÖ,” as put forward by the Supreme Court of Appeals. Noting that none of the items listed by the Supreme Court of Appeals were found in his case, Kabakçı requested to be released pending trial.

Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ruled to release Kabakçı under judicial control measures and set 28 March 2019 as the date for the next hearing. The court also ruled to await the outcome of the examination of digital material belonging to Kabakçı and hear one more witness.

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