German journalist Mesale Tolu released in Turkey

German journalist Mesale Tolu released in Turkey

Mesale Tolu was detained in Istanbul in April on “terror” charges [Osman Orsal/Reuters]

An Istanbul court has released German journalist Mesale Tolu pending trial, after eight months in prison, but banned her from leaving Turkey.

She was released from prison on Monday, along with five others who are also accused of “terrorism” in the same case, according to the state media.

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The court ordered the six to stay in Turkey and register once a week at the police station nearest to their residences.

Tolu was detained in late April in Istanbul while working for a left-leaning media organisation.

Relations between Ankara and Berlin have been tense since the last year’s failed coup, as a result of imprisonment of German journalists and activists in Turkey on “terror” charges, among other reasons.

Germany and other EU member states have condemned the Turkish government’s detentions and purges of tens of thousands of people after the July 2016 incident. 

Yucel remains jailed

Deniz Yucel, a prominent German journalist and critic of the Turkish government, is among the German citizens who remain imprisoned in Turkey on “terror” charges after the coup attempt.

Local and international rights groups accuse the government of using the coup attempt as a pretext to silence opposition in the country.

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The government says that the purges and detentions aimed to remove from state institutions and other parts of society the supporters of Fethullah Gulen, a US-based, self-exiled religious leader on whom Ankara blames the attempted coup.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking to reporters in Berlin following the release of Tolu, called the ruling “good news”, but stressed that the trial was not over. 

“It is good news given that she will be freed, but not completely so, because she can’t leave the country and the trial continues,” Merkel told reporters.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Twitter: “We welcome the release of Mesale Tolu from prison. Although this is not the end of the trial it is an important step forward.”

The EU has shrunk last month the so-called “pre-ascension funds” for Turkey for the first time in the 2018 budget, due to “deteriorating situation in relation to democracy, rule of law and human rights” there.