ISTANBUL (AP) — A prominent journalist accused of supporting Turkey’s failed coup was released from prison Saturday after a court ruling, according to the country’s official news agency on Saturday.
Sahin Alpay, a 74-year-old journalist who wrote for the now-defunct Zaman newspaper, was released from a prison on the outskirts of Istanbul early Saturday. Anadolu news agency said he has been banned from leaving his house and the country.
Alpay was arrested soon after the July 2016 failed coup, accused of terror group membership and attempting to overthrow the government.
Turkey blames the coup attempt on U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. Gulen denies all accusations. Turkey shuttered Zaman and other Gulen-linked media before the coup.
In January, Turkey’s constitutional court ruled that Alpay’s rights had been violated by his imprisonment and ruled for his release, but a penal court initially refused to carry out the order.
Alpay told journalists outside the prison that his 20 months inside were difficult. “I am very happy to be reunited with my family but I cannot say I am free,” Alpay said.
More than 38,000 people remain imprisoned in a massive crackdown on alleged Gulen supporters. Some 114,000 people have been sacked from public service through government decrees. At least 140 media organizations were closed.
“I leave behind thousands of people who have nothing to do with terrorism or the coup. I think Turkey will not be free as long as they are not free,” Alpay said.
The Reporters Without Borders group has ranked Turkey at 155th out of 180 countries on its 2017 press freedom index.