ISTANBUL, Turkey—Publisher Ragip Zarakolu was released from prison today pending trial along with 14 other suspects. He was taken into custody on Oct. 28, 2011, during a large-scale manhunt in Istanbul against Kurdish and human rights activists.
An indictment on an alleged umbrella political organization (KCK) that includes the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was accepted by an Istanbul court last week. The prosecutor is seeking up to 15 years for Zarakolu on charges of aiding a terrorist group, reported Today’s Zaman.
Zarakolu heads the Belge publishing house, which has published numerous books on the oppression of the national minorities in Turkey and the Armenian Genocide. Zarakolu had said after his arrest that during the raid to his house the police confiscated only few books as “evidence of crime” and found nothing about his so-called relations with any organization.
The confiscated books are volume two of Vatansiz Gazeteci (Stateless Journalist) by Dogan Ozguden, chief editor of Info-Turk; Habiba by Ender Ondes; Peace Process by Yuksel Genc; and manuscripts of three books about the Armenian Genocide and Armenian history.
On Nov. 2, 2011, Human Rights Watch issued a statement noting that the decision to imprison Zarakolu and others pending their trial on terrorism charges exposed the huge deficiencies of Turkey’s criminal justice system. “The arrests of Ragip Zarakolu and Busra Ersanli represent a new low in the misuse of terrorism laws to crush freedom of expression and association in Turkey,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, a Turkey researcher at Human Rights Watch.