BERLIN — German officials are greeting an Istanbul court’s decision to free a German man and seven other activists from jail pending the outcome of their trial, saying it could portend the beginning of better relations between Germany and Turkey.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas said Thursday that Peter Steudtner’s release was an “encouraging sign.” Still, he says, “the remaining German citizens who are in custody without justification or charges must be set free.”

Several other Germans were arrested in the aftermath of the failed coup in Turkey, including journalist Deniz Yucel.

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Germany would continue fighting for all of their release, but called Steudtner’s release Wednesday night “a first sign” relations were improving.

He told Der Spiegel magazine that former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder had helped negotiate Steudtner’s release.