Turkey Scholars Freed as Prosecutors Seek to Scale Back Charges

130041A Turkish court on Friday freed four academics from jail on the first day of their trial for spreading “terrorist propaganda”, as prosecutors moved to scale back the charges against them.

The four, on trial for signing a petition denouncing the government’s military operations against Kurdish rebels, were released “pending permission from the justice ministry” to change the charge.

Under the original charge, Esra Mungan Gursoy, Meral Camci, Kivanc Ersoy and Muzaffer Kaya faced up to seven-and-a-half years behind bars.

But prosecutors now want to slap them with charges under Article 301, a law which states that “denigrating Turkishness” is a criminal act — which carries a maximum sentence of two years in jail.

Supporters in court applauded as they walked free, with the judge setting setting the next hearing for September 27.