ISTANBUL - A Turkish court on Friday ordered the release of an anti-government newspaper editor but remanded the head of a national television network in custody in a controversial case that has strained relations with the European Union.
Ekrem Dumanli, the editor-in-chief of the Zaman daily, was to be freed but Samanyolu TV (STV) chief Hidayet Karaca was placed under arrest after they were detained in weekend raids of suspects accused of plotting to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Seven other suspects in the case were ordered released by the court in Istanbul while three more - all police officers - were also remanded in custody. Both the Zaman newspaper and the STV channel are linked to Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Muslim cleric living the United States, who was once a strong supporter of Erdogan but has turned into his arch foe.
Erdogan accuses Gulen of running a "parallel state" and being behind sensational corruption allegations against his inner circle that broke on December 17 last year.
State-run TRT television said that an arrest warrant had also been issued for Gulen "for leading a terrorist organisation".oh However the United States has so far paid little attention to repeated requests from Turkey for his extradition from his base in the state of Pennsylvania.
Turkish television said that Karaca had been charged with "forming and running a terrorist organisation" while the three police arrested had been charged with "membership of a terrorist organisation".
Dumanli has been slapped with an exit ban from Turkey, indicating he is still set to face trial. According to Zaman's website, after the decision was announced Karaca raised his hands and said: "No need to be worried, God helps." "Just as this is an arrest order for a fictional scenario, this is a fictional ruling."
"Those who made this decision will appear before the court one day," he said. His arrest is believed to be linked to a popular drama series on STV, "Tek Turkiye" (One Turkey), which tells the story of a doctor who goes to work in the Kurdish-majority southeast amid the armed rebellion by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels.
The European Union had condemned the arrests as running contrary to European values but Erdogan has struck back, telling the bloc to "mind their own business" in a row that risks permanently damaging relations.