A security officer gestures at the photographer to stop taking pictures, as construction workers who were arrested last September after a strike to protest against their working conditions in Istanbul airport, arrive for the trial on December 5, 2018, in Istanbul. AFP

ANKARA: Turkish judge Wednesday ordered the release of 31 Istanbul Airport construction workers detained since September after protesting their working conditions, labor unions said. "The court has announced its decision: it has decided to free our director general Ozgur Karabulut, the heads of the Insaat-IS union, and all the workers," the Dev Yapi-is construction union announced on Twitter. Insaat-Is also tweeted the news, and said a delegation would head to Silivri, a prison on the outskirts of Istanbul, to greet the workers due to be freed overnight.

In September, hundreds of workers walked off the job at Istanbul's new international airport in protest at poor conditions and work-related deaths on the site. Turkish authorities cracked down, arresting hundreds, according to labour unions. Most were released without charge, but some remained in prison. On Monday, opposition lawmaker Ali Seker said that the government had admitted that "at least 52 workers" have died on the site since construction began in 2015. The airport, one of a number of mega-projects built under Erdogan's rule, will replace the existing Ataturk Airport once it is completed. --AFP