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Turkish court clears German journalist of terror charges - DW

17.01.2022, 17:35
Spiegel Online
Spiegel Online

A court in Turkey has acquitted journalist and translator Mesale Tolu of belonging to a terrorist organization. Tolu said "the verdict cannot make up for the repression and the time spent in detention," as Deutsche Welle reported.

An Istanbul court on Monday cleared journalist and translator Mesale Tolu of belonging to a terrorist organization.

Tolu — who was born in the southern German city of Ulm — and her husband Suat Corlu had also been charged with spreading terrorist propaganda. 

Both did not take part in the proceedings, having already left Turkey to return to Germany.

"After 4 years, 8 months and 20 days: Acquittal on both charges!" wrote Tolu on Twitter. 

"In a state under the rule of law, such a trial would not have happened in the first place," she went on. "The verdict cannot make up for the repression and the time spent in detention."

What happened in the case?

In April 2017, Tolu was arrested by heavily armed anti-terror units in Istanbul and spent more than seven months behind bars. In 2018, she was allowed to leave for Germany

Tolu was arrested while working as a translator for a left-wing news agency. She and her co-defendants, including Corlu, were charged with membership of the extremist Marxist-Leninist Communist Party, which is seen as a terrorist organization in Turkey.

If found guilty, they would have faced prison terms of up to 20 years.

Ahead of the ruling, Tolu told DW she now finally wants closure, saying that she wants to look ahead and fully focus on her work as a journalist with the German newspaper Schwäbische Zeitung.

In September 2021, a Turkish prosecutor urged the acquittal of Tolu. While the prosecution said all the co-defendants should also be acquitted on that charge, it is still demanding sentences against some defendants on terror propaganda charges — including against Tolu's husband.

Christian Mihr, the Executive Director of Reporters Without Borders Germany, who was in Istanbul to observe the proceedings said Corlu had also been acquitted.

The case is not an isolated one. The Turkish Journalists Union (TGS) says there are currently 34 journalists in Turkish jails, most of whom are accused of belonging to a terror organization, insulting the president or spreading terrorist propaganda.

Deutsche Welle

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