Expression Interrupted

Journalists and academics bear the brunt of the massive crackdown on freedom of expression in Turkey. Scores of them are currently subject to criminal investigations or behind bars. This website is dedicated to tracking the legal process against them.

Meşale Tolu released after 8 months behind bars

Meşale Tolu released after 8 months behind bars

Tolu, who faces up to 15 years in jail on “terrorism” charges has been imprisoned since May

Journalist and translator Meşale Tolu, on trial on “terrorism charges” along with 17 other co-defendants, was released from prison at the end of the second hearing of her case held on 18 December.

Tolu, an employee of the Etkin News Agency (ETHA), has been imprisoned since May. The Istanbul 29th High Criminal Court, which oversees the trial, ruled to release all six imprisoned defendants in the case. The released defendants, in addition to Tolu, are Birol Kurt, Deniz Havuç, Emre Altunkaya, Fırat Çağla and Serkan Okatan. The court decided to adjourn the trial until 26 April 2018.

Tolu, a German national, faces up to 15 years in jail on the charges of “membership in a terrorist organization,” namely the Marxist-Leninist Community Party (MLKP), and “terrorism propaganda”. Evrensel reported that German Ambassador in Ankara, Martin Erdmann, was among those who followed the trial.

During Monday’s hearing, the prosecutor requested all imprisoned defendants to be released, based on the time they already spent in pre-trial detention and the possibility that the nature of the crime might have changed.

Responding to the prosecutor’s opinion, Tolu said a decision for release would “ease the public conscience.” She maintained that she was arrested because she was a journalist in an effort by the authorities to step up the pressure on the media.

Keleş Öztürk, Tolu’s lawyer, said that the indictment alleges that ETHA was an extension of the MLKP but that no evidence is presented to prove that there exists an organic link between ETHA and the MLKP. Öztürk demanded Tolu’s acquittal.

Tolu was arrested in a police raid on her home on 30 April and sent to prison pending trial by a court on 5 May. Tolu’s son, now three-years-old, was living with her and her husband, Suat Çorlu, who was also imprisoned. Çorlu was released last month.