Seven journalists were released from a Turkish jail on Friday after spending nine months behind bars on charges of aiding a terrorist organization. The journalists are employees of Cumhuriyet, Turkey’s oldest newspaper and one of the nation’s few remaining independent news outlets. Their court case represents that largest trial of journalists in Turkey since a failed coup against the Turkish government in July of last year. All together, 17 Cumhuriyet staffers have been detained on terrorism-related charges. On Friday, an Instanbul court ruled that five of the staffers, including the paper’s top executive, would remain in detention ahead of a second court hearing.
In the wake of last year’s attempted coup, the Turkish government, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, instated a nationwide crackdown that has led to the arrest of more than 50,000 people and the dismissal of around 150,000 civil servants. These detentions and arrests typically target police officers, military personnel, court officials, teachers, and journalists, who are frequently accused of threatening national security, belonging to a terrorist group, or plotting to kill Erdogan. All together, the Turkish government has detained more than 150 journalists, making it the world’s leading jailer of journalists and intellectuals. Erdogan has denied these statistics, claiming that all but two of the detained journalists are terrorists.