Cumhuriyet reporter Coşkun receives suspended sentence for story over Turkey’s MİT

Journalist Canan Coşkun.

An İstanbul court on Tuesday decided on a suspended 10-month sentence for Cumhuriyet daily reporter Canan Coşkun for her reports on the Turkish intelligence agency’s smuggling of arms to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

According to a story in the Evrensel daily on Tuesday, the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance handed down to Coşkun a suspended 10-month sentence for “insulting the state’s military and security organizations.”

Coşkun’s lawyer, Abbas Yalçın, said during the hearing on Tuesday that Coşkun’s report on arms smuggling by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) to radical groups in Syria by hiding them in onion sacks was not an insult to state organizations.

“She has done her duty as a journalist. She reported on an issue that the public needed to know about,” he said.

On May 25, 2016, Cumhuriyet published a report saying that MİT had been smuggling arms to radical groups in Syria, including ISIL, by hiding them in various export items such as onion sacks.

Cumhuriyet’s former editor-in-chief Can Dündar and its Ankara representative Erdem Gül were jailed and later released over the daily’s reports on MİT trucks that were smuggling arms to ISIL.

Dündar published a sensational report on Turkey’s alleged illegal arms delivery to opposition groups in Syria. Following his story, Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan personally targeted him, calling him a traitor. Dündar has been living in Germany, which Erdoğan accuses of harboring terrorists.

Turkey stands out from the crowd by a distant margin by holding a record number of 235 journalists and media workers behind bars, breaking an all time world record. More than half of the journalists who are in prison around the world are now located in Turkey, a member of the Council of Europe (CoE) and a candidate member for the European Union (EU).

Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has documented that 237 journalists are now in jails, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 215 are arrested pending trial, only 22 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons.  An outstanding detention warrants remain for 100 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey. Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the coup attempt. (SCF with May 9, 2017

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