Turkey Releases 4 Journalists in Coup Plot Trial

Posted March 12th, 2012 at 3:30 pm (UTC-5)
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A Turkish court has released four prominent journalists pending trial on accusations they were involved in a conspiracy to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Among the four released Monday by the court in Istanbul are Nedim Sener and Ahmet Sik, two well-known investigative journalists, who spent more than a year in a Turkish prison. At least six other defendants, mostly journalists, are still in custody.

The defendants were arrested in connection with an alleged plot known as Ergenekon. The government alleges the secularist network was planning bombings and other attacks to discredit the Islamic-based government and trigger a military coup.

Turkish authorities have detained more than 300 people, including journalists, academics and politicians, as part of a wide-reaching investigation into Ergenekon.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc welcomed Monday's court ruling, saying it was saddening that the journalists spent 375 days in detention.

The case has highlighted international concerns about press freedom in Turkey. Last month, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists issued its annual “Attacks on the Press” report, in which Turkey ranks among the world's top jailers of journalists.