A Turkish court has ordered the release of German journalist Mesale Tolu pending trial in Istanbul, in a move that has been welcomed in Berlin.
“This isn’t just good news, it’s also a tremendous relief,” Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a statement. “This doesn’t end the case, but it is a first big step.”
Tolu was arrested in April and charged with spreading terrorist propaganda after she moved to Istanbul and began working as a translator and journalist at an agency that Turkish authorities suspected of being linked to the banned far-left group MLKP. Tolu and five others she is on trial with was released on condition that she reports to the authorities once a week and does not leave the country.
According to Reuters Tolu is one of 28 German citizens who were arrested in a government crackdown on dissidents after a failed military coup in Turkey last year. Their detention has been a source of growing bitterness Between Ankara and Berlin and has contributed to stalling Turkey’s EU ambitions.
Tolu’s release comes just weeks after German prosecutors dropped their investigation into a dozen Muslim clerics sent from Turkey allegedly to spy on Germany on behalf of the Turkish government.
A spokesman for the German government said it was too soon to say what effect Tolu’s release would have on the soured relations between the two NATO allies and said Berlin would continue to apply pressure on Ankara to release Deniz Yucel – another high-profile German-Turkish journalist.
Co-leader of the German Green Party Cem Ozdemir welcomed the news of Tolu’s release, but also denounced the “miserable state of the rule of law in Turkey.
“I demand that the Turkish government release all political prisoners and immediately allow German citizens like Mesale Tolu to leave the country,” Ozdemir said in a statement.
Mesale Tolu’s court case resumes in April.