[JURIST] Two Turkish journalists were released from Silivri prison early Friday after Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled [press release] Thursday that the detention violated their personal liberty, security, and freedom of expression and press. Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, employees of the Turkish daily newspaper Cumhuriyet [media website, in Turkish], were arrested [CNN report] last November for reporting in 2014 that Turkish trucks were smuggling arms to pro-Islamist groups in Syria. The Turkish government denied [AP report] the allegations and later made contradictory claims that the trucks were carrying humanitarian aid or ammunition to Turkish groups abroad. Subsequently, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan filed a claim against the reporters and accused them of cooperating with FETO, a secret movement intending to falsely link the Turkish government to terrorist groups. Though Dundar and Gul have been freed, they still face the government’s charges and must stand trial on March 25.
Turkey has been accused of violating the freedom of expression on numerous recent occasions. In December the European Court of Human Rights ruled [JURIST report] unanimously that a Turkish court order blocking access to YouTube violated Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In April a prosecutor in Turkey ordered [JURIST report] Internet providers to block social networking sites including Twitter and YouTube. In September 2014 Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] that Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party [party website] was taking steps to weaken the rule of law, control Internet and media and suppress critics and protesters. In April 2014 the Turkish government lifted a ban [JURIST report] on Twitter following a Constitutional Court ruling stating that the ban violated both individual rights as well as the freedom of expression.