“May it be the best for our nation,” Erdoğan told reporters after addressing his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in Parliament. “They will continue to stand trial without imprisonment.”
The prime minister had repeatedly brushed aside criticism from human rights groups and politicians at home as well as in the EU and the US that the detention of journalists in coup plot or anti-terror cases cast a shadow on press freedoms in Turkey. However, in his comments he referred to Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç's statement on Monday evening welcoming the release of the four journalists.
“He offered a good assessment of the decision,” Erdoğan said, in reference to Arınç's comments. The deputy prime minister had said: “One can only be glad at their release. It is saddening that they spent 375 days in prison.”
The journalists -- Ahmet Şık, Nedim Şener, Coşkun Musluk and Sait Çakır -- were released on Monday afternoon. They are facing charges of involvement in the media wing of Ergenekon, a shadowy network believed to have plotted to topple the government.
Erdoğan has repeatedly said jailed journalists are not facing trial because of what they have written, but because of allegations of involvement in criminal activities that have nothing to do with their profession.