Turkish court acquits Austrian journalist over terror charges

A Turkish court in Ankara on Wednesday ruled in favour of the acquittal of Max Zirngast, an Austrian activist and a commentator of the socialist Jacobin magazine, over charges of being a member of terrorist organisation.

The court said there was no evidence against Zirngast, who was detained last year in September and spent three months in jail until in December the Ankara 26th Criminal Court released him pending trial. Zirngast was accused ıf being a member of the leftist TKP/Kıvılcım terrorist organisation, independent news site Bianet reported.

The court also acquitted Turkish nationals Mithatcan Türetken and Hatice Göz, who were detained along with Zirngast. 

Harlem Désir, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) representative on media freedom, said on Twitter that he welcomed the Turkish court’s decision.

“Journalists should never be imprisoned for their work,” Désir said. 

Media freedom organisation International Press Institute also welcomed Zirngast’s acquittal and called on Turkey to release all other 136 journalists who remain behind bars. 

The frequent prosecution of press members has made Turkey the world’s leading jailer of journalists for the past three years running. The Turkish government has shut down more than 175 news outlets and jailed 135 journalists as part of a crackdown on critical media since a coup attempt in 2016.