World Bulletin / News Desk
Professor Büşra Ersanlı, who was arrested in November on terrorism charges as part of an investigation into the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), was released pending trial on Friday along with 15 other suspects in the case.
Several defendants in the case appealed the İstanbul 15th High Criminal Court recently in an attempt to benefit from a law inserted in a newly approved judicial reform package, requesting their release from prison pending trial. They argued that the newly approved reform package allows for them to spend the remainder of the trial outside of prison. The court accepted their request on Friday, ruling in favor of the release of 16 suspects.
Ersanlı, along with publisher Ragıp Zarakolu, was arrested in November on terrorism charges as part of an investigation into the KCK, an umbrella group that allegedly encompasses the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and affiliated organizations. Zarakolu was released pending trial in April.
Ersanlı, who was a member of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party's (BDP) constitutional commission, faces up to 22-and-a-half years in jail on charges of leading a terrorist organization. In a recent interview, Ersanlı denied the charges and said all her activities were within the limits of freedom of expression and freedom of association.
The KCK is accused of attempting to establish an alternative system of governance and terrorizing locals in the country's predominantly Kurdish areas. Most of the accused face charges of membership in and/or aiding and abetting a terrorist group.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu recently voiced concern over Ersanlı's arrest and said while he “does not believe Ersanlı is a terrorist,” he does not have the right to interfere in the judiciary. “Ms. Ersanlı is an academic who demonstrated a very democratic stance during [the military coup of] Feb. 28, . I don't believe she is a terrorist, but the fact that I have this view, as a minister, does not grant me the right to interfere in the judicial process,” Davutoğlu said.