Istanbul, Dec 19: 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 “terror”-related charges in the same case.
“The court took the length of her imprisonment, the evidence related to the case in consideration and decided that her staying jailed would be an unjust treatement,” Ezgi Gungordu, one of Tolu’s lawyers, told Al Jazeera.
“However, considering she is a German citizen, it was decided that she had high probabilty to escape the country after her release,” she said.
The court ordered the six released not to leave Turkey and register once a week at the police station nearest to their residences.
There are in total 18 suspects in the case. Other 12 are being tried without arrest. Tolu was detained in late April in Istanbul while working for a left-leaning media organisation.
Tolu is charged of “being a member of a terrorist organisation” and “carrying out terrorist propoganda” for joining funerals of members of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party, an organisation outlawed in Turkey.
“She went to these funerals to write news stories as a journalist or because she personally knows these people. They are from the same political environment,” lawyer Gungordu told Al Jazeera, adding that she hoped Tolu would be acquitted in the next two trials.
The next trial for the case is scheduled for April. 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.
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.”
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 European Union (EU) member states have condemned the Turkish government’s detentions and purges of tens of thousands of people after the July 2016 incident.