Journalist and translator with German citizenship, Meşale Tolu, who is on trial with a jail term of up to fifteen years sought on the charges of “making terrorist organisation propaganda” and “membership of a terrorist organisation,” has had her ban on leaving the country lifted. To our question, “Did your being a German citizen have an effect on the lifting of this ban?” she replied, “I have experienced no advantage until today. I appeared before the court three times and presented my defence. Of course, I don’t know what was spoken behind closed doors. The ban was lifted on application by my lawyers.”
Meşale Tolu said that her lawyers had been applying for the lifting of the ban on leaving the country since April, but this application had been dismissed on each occasion. Indicating that the most recent application they made had been granted, but this time the prosecutor objected, Tolu said, “The prosecutor’s objection was overruled by the next superior court. My child is registered as a pupil in Germany. Now he will be able to continue his schooling. The ban on leaving the country against my husband, who is being tried in the same case as me, has not however been lifted.” Recalling that the trial was continuing, Tolu commented, “I will continue to monitor the process until an acquittal ruling is issued in my favour. I have always referred to the fact that I am not the only one to be detained. Many journalists are currently detained for having voiced their thoughts.”
The “The Ring of Solidarity for Freedom for Meşale Tolu” initiative, created to support Tolu, has announced that Tolu will shortly depart from Turkey. With it noted in the initiative’s announcement that the trial against Tolu is continuing, it was stated, “There can be no talk of there being a fair trial, either for Meşale Tolu, or for others who have been unjustly detained.
The detaining in Turkey of German citizens Tolu, Die Welt newspaper reporter Deniz Yücel and human rights activist Peter Steudtner created tension in Turco-German relations last year. Yücel and Steudtner were released following German politicians’ initiatives and returned to Germany.
Has the US crisis led to a rapprochement?
Turkey’s relations with the USA, in turn, are tense due to its continued holding of Pastor Andrew Brunson under house arrest. Following this crisis and the Turkish lira’s speedy devaluation against foreign currencies, Ankara began to adopt a softer tone in its relations with Europe. The lifting of the ban on Tolu leaving the country has begged the question of whether this was a step Turkey has taken in the direction of rapprochement with Germany.
Istanbul Bar Association Executive Board member, Hasan Kılıç, Attorney-at-Law, stressed that the public uncertainty arising with reference to justice was a serious problem. Saying there was a need to prevent the perception that, “Relations with countries determine people’s fates,” Kılıç noted, “We cannot close our eyes to this debate. This debate has its origin in mistakes and rhetoric that are being brought into play, and decisions taken as a result of the rhetoric. Relations with the ruler of any country or the ruler’s comments should exert no influence in the Turkish judiciary. We have a great need for an independent and reliable judiciary. The notion of justice serves as oxygen. In the absence of oxygen we become breathless. We must issue judicial decisions in which nobody interferes.”
The course of the trial
Meşale Tolu was arrested in a raid conducted on her home on 30 April 2017. She was placed in detention charged with “making terrorist organisation propaganda” and “membership of a terrorist organisation” at the court she was brought before and, following seven months in detention in Bakırköy Prison to which she was sent, Tolu was released in December 2017. On pretrial release, Tolu will appear once more before the judges on 16 October.
“The law must be equal for everyone”
For his part, lawyer of former CHP member of parliament Eren Erdem, Onur Cingil, Attorney-at-Law, recalled that Erdem was currently in detention in Silivri Prison because the ban on leaving the country against Erdem had been converted into detention.
Berberoğlu's wife: I wish justice a good Eid.
Detained CHP MP and journalist Enis Berberoğlu’s wife Oya Berberoğlu recalled in a written statement that her husband had been detained in Maltepe for fifteen months. She noted that she had waited until yesterday afternoon for justice to be done but had unfortunately been deceived and lawlessness with all its peculiarities had continued for two and a half years
Letter from Osman Kavala in his ninth month
There is a letter from Osman Kavala, who has completed his ninth month in detention. In the letter he has written from Silivri Prison where he is being held, Kavala stated that he had not seen the “face of justice” since being detained and this was alienating.