Turkey - Provincial newspaper editor free after being held for 109 days

    MONTREAL, July 31 /CNW Telbec/ - A criminal court in Gerger, in the
southeastern province of Adiyaman, yesterday ordered the release of Haci
Bogatekin, the editor of the local fortnightly Gerger Firat, who had been held
since 13 April. He is still charged with trying to influence the course of a
trial and with insulting and defaming local prosecutor Sadullah Ovacikli.
    It was Ovacikli who initiated legal proceedings against Bogatekin after
he published an article in January condemning the failure of the authorities
to react to a religious community's growing influence.
    "We are relieved by Bogatekin's release as the charges against him
offered no grounds for holding him," Reporters Without Borders said.
"Bogatekin is not a criminal and his detention looked more like a reprisal
than a sound judicial decision."
    The court's new president, judge Abdullah Gunakin, decided to put an end
to Bogatekin's pre-trial detention right at the outset of yesterday's hearing.
The same court had ruled on 30 May and again on 30 June that he would have to
be detained because he could otherwise try to flee, tamper with evidence or
pressure the prosecution witnesses (who are police officers).
    Bogatekin's outspoken fortnightly is the only newspaper in Gerger (a town
of about 4,000 inhabitants). He has set himself the goal of combatting the
growing vitality of Islamist organisations in the region and the "retreat of
republican values." He has been sued or prosecuted about 90 times but in most
cases was acquitted.
    In a 4 January editorial entitled "Feto and Apo" about rivalry between
religious groups and Kurdish separatists for popular support, he accused the
Turkish army - seen by Turks as the guardian of the republic's secular values
- of abandoning the towns to the influence of the religious communities. He
was summoned by the judicial authorities a few days later and was placed in
pre-trial detention on 13 April.

For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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