DİHA reporter sentenced to 9 years on World Press Freedom Day in Turkey

Mehmet Güleş, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency.

Mehmet Güleş, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), which was closed by the government following a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, was sentenced by a court in Elazığ province on Wednesday to nine years, four months and 15 days in prison for alleged membership in a terrorist organization and disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization.

According to a TRT report, Güleş denied the charges laid against him, the “evidence” for which were his phone conversations and social media messages.

Güleş, who was arrested in December, told the court in his testimony that all he had done was engage in journalism.

The decision came as international organizations waged campaigns to show solidarity with jailed journalists in Turkey on May 3, World Press Freedom Day.

Rights organizations estimate the number of jailed journalists in Turkey as between 159 and 235.

Amnesty International on Tuesday night projected the names of imprisoned Turkish journalists onto the facade of the Turkish Embassy in The Hague.

AI also launched a campaign on Twitter late in March to support jailed journalists in Turkey, calling for their release, with the hashtag #FreeTurkeyMedia.

Turkey is ranked 155th among 180 countries in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on April 26.

If Turkey falls four more ranks, it will make it to the list of the countries on the blacklist, which has the poorest records in press freedom.

The US-based Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world, has named Turkey as among the countries that have a “not free” press, in a report released on April 28.

According to Freedom of the Press 2017, the Turkish government, using enhanced powers under a state of emergency, carried out a massive purge of media outlets accused of links to an attempted military coup in July.

In the World Press Freedom Day on May 3, 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 235 journalists are now in jails, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 214 are arrested pending trial, Only 21 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons.  An outstanding detention warrants remain for 103 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. (turkishminute.com) May 3, 2017

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