Police vehicles are seen during the trial of Cumhuriyet Daily suspects who are accused of supporting a terrorist group outside a courthouse, in Istanbul, Turkey, July 24, 2017.
Police vehicles are seen during the trial of Cumhuriyet Daily suspects who are accused of supporting a terrorist group outside a courthouse, in Istanbul, Turkey, July 24, 2017.

A court in Istanbul, that is hearing a case related to aiding and abetting terrorists, ordered the release of seven Cumhuriyet newspaper employees on Friday.

The released journalists face a travel ban and will still have to appear before a trial to face charges against them, according to the court order.

Earlier in April, the court had indicted 19 employees, including administrators and writers, of the newspaper.

Out of 19 facing trial, two – including the daily's former editor-in-chief Can Dundar – are fugitives. Another 12 were remanded in custody while five had been released earlier pending trial.

Along with caricaturist Musa Kart, the court ordered the release of suspects Guray Oz, Bulent Utku, Hakan Kara, Onder Celik, Mustafa Kemal Gungor and Turhan Gunay under judicial supervision.

TRT World's editor-at-large Ahmad al Burai gives more details from istanbul.

The suspects are accused of sponsoring the PKK and far-left DHKP-C as well as the Gulen network or Fetullah Gulen Terror Organisation (FETO), which Turkey blames for last year's July 15 coup attempt that claimed at least 240 loves and injured more than 2,000 others.

PKK is recognised as a terrorist organisation by the European Union, the US and Turkey.

Other suspects Ahmet Sik, Akin Atalay, Kadri Gursel and Murat Sabuncu will remain in jail, the court said.

Prison sentences requested by the state prosecution ranged from seven-and-a-half years to 43 years.

The court began its first hearing in the case on July 24; the next hearing is expected in September this year.

Two of the suspects, including former Cumhuriyet Editor in Chief Can Dundar, who faces charges in another FETO-linked case, have fled the country.

The newspaper has called the charges "imaginary accusations and slander." Social media posts comprised the bulk of evidence in the indictment, along with allegations that staff had been in contact with users of Bylock, an encrypted messaging app the government says was used by followers of US-based Fetullah Gulen.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies