'Sometimes NATO Ally' Turkey releases remaining Hundred ISIS suspects in mass IS trial. (Turkish Minute).
A Turkish court on Thursday ordered the release from custody of all remaining suspects in the trial of almost 100 people suspected of ties to the Islamic State jihadist group, reports said.
The trial in Istanbul is the most significant yet in Turkey against alleged members of IS, dozens of whom have been detained in nationwide security sweeps in recent months.
Until Thursday's hearing, seven of the 96 defendants were still in custody.
But in what was the fourth hearing in the trial, the court ordered that the seven -- five Turks and two Syrians -- be released under judicial supervision, the Dogan news agency reported.
The trial was adjourned to an unspecified date in June. Dozens of defendants are also being tried in absentia.
Those released included Halis Bayancuk, whom press reports had dubbed the "emir" of IS in Istanbul with the nom-de-guerre Ebu Hanzala.
Bayancuk is charged with being a member of IS and faces up to 10 years in jail if found guilty. He denies the charges.
Another suspect -- Syrian national Asaad Khalif al-Khadr -- is also charged with forging passports.
The seven freed Thursday cannot leave Turkey and will have to report to the authorities three times a week.
The Turkish government in August conducted large-scale operations against three terrorist organizations, including ISIL, and detained hundreds of suspects in a counterterrorism campaign launched in the wake of an explosion in Suruç that claimed 33 lives on July 20, 2015, among them Bayancuk, also known as Abu Hanzala. Bayancuk was detained in İstanbul with his wife on July 27 and later arrested with several other suspected ISIL members.
The Suruç explosion took place in front of the Amara Cultural Center where a large number of members of the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF) from İstanbul, Ankara, İzmir and Diyarbakır were making a statement to the press regarding their planned efforts to help reconstruct the Syrian border town of Kobani. The media reported that 300 members of the SGDF were preparing to travel to Kobani to help with the efforts to rebuild. Thirty-three young people died from injuries sustained in the explosion.
Bayancuk led an Eid prayer on July 2015 in İstanbul where he criticized the Turkish government and made a call for a “holy war.” The media reported that a group of ISIL militants — allegedly consisting of 1,000 members — gathered at a picnic site in İstanbul’s Ömerli neighborhood to perform the prayers signaling the end of the holy month of Ramadan and the beginning of the celebration of Eid al-Fitr.
Bayancuk was also detained on Jan. 14, 2014, along with dozens of others during anti-terrorism raids on al-Qaeda cells by the police and gendarmerie units in six provinces across Turkey.
He was later arrested. However, he was released in the eastern city of Van in October 2014 by a controversial court order after Turkey’s government removed the police chiefs who ordered the raids from office.