UPDATE: In Turkey, authorities rule to free journalists, then reverse decision

March 31, 2017 12:40 PM ET

Abdullah Kılıç (Courtesy of Kılıç family)

New York, March 31, 2017-- Istanbul's 25th Court for Serious Crimes ordered the release pending trial of at least 19 journalists jailed in the aftermath of the July 2016 failed coup attempt in Turkey, but the decision was reversed after an appeal by the chief prosecutor, and none of the journalists were freed, according to news reports. The news website P24 reported on Twitter that the prosecutor filed new charges against some of the journalists, while others were kept in custody due to a decision by another court.

"We call on Turkish authorities to release all journalists imprisoned for their work and to drop all charges against them," CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. "The unprecedented crackdown on the press has deprived Turkish citizens of independent coverage on subjects of vital public interest and has contributed to the rapid decline of democratic governance in the country."

Among the 19 journalists initially ordered released but not freed was Abdullah Kılıç, a former journalist with the newspaper Meydan, whose case is highlighted by CPJ's #FreeThePress campaign this month.

Separately, a court in the Mediterranean city of Antalya ordered another six journalists who had also been detained following the failed coup released today, according to media reports, and Istanbul's 24th Court for Serious Crimes acquitted veteran journalist Hasan Cemal of terrorism charges, his employer reported. At the time of CPJ's most recent annual prison census, Turkey held at least 81 journalists in retaliation for their work, more than any other country at any time since CPJ started keeping records in 1992.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The headline of this statement has been corrected and the first and third paragraphs have been updated to reflect that the journalists in Istanbul were not released.

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