47 life sentences sought for critical journalists in Turkey over past 3 months

Various Turkish journalists in the past three months faced 46 aggravated life sentences, one life sentence and 3,023 years, 10 months in prison in total, according to the BİA Media Monitoring Report, which covers freedom of the press violations in Turkey for the July-September 2018 period.

According to the report by journalist Erol Önderoğlu, who is also the representative of Journalists Without Borders (RSF) in Turkey, 12 journalists or media workers faced 35 aggravated life sentences in total in cases related to a controversial coup attempt in 2016.

The report said 11 of these journalists were acquitted of the charge. Ten journalists faced one aggravated life sentence, one life sentence and 454 years in prison on the charge of espionage or acquiring and publishing the confidential documents of the state. One of the trials ended in acquittal. Ten journalists also faced aggravated life on the charge of “damaging the unity of the state.”

According to the report 125 journalists faced 1,912 years in prison in total on charges of “leading a terrorist organization,” “committing crimes in the name of a terrorist organization as a non-member,” “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” or “aiding a terrorist organization” in this period. Thirteen of them were sentenced to a total of 114 years in prison.

Also, 60 journalists or media workers faced 423 years in prison in total on a charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” or “reporting the statements of a terrorist organization.” Five of these journalists were sentenced to a total of 15 years in prison.

While seven journalists faced 10 years, six months in prison in total on a charge of “inciting the public to enmity and hatred,” one of them received a suspended sentence of six months. Although the prosecutor demanded that six journalists be sentenced to 12 years in prison on a charge of “insulting state institutions,” three of the journalists were acquitted and one of them was sentenced to six months. Two of them were released pending trial.

Four journalists faced 20 years in prison in total on the charge of “open provocation to commit a crime.” Two journalists faced six years in prison on the charge of “violating the confidentiality of an investigation,” and one journalist faced three years in prison on the charge of “invasion of privacy.”

One journalist who faced three years in prison was sentenced to a suspended sentence of 10 months on a charge of “violating the right to privacy,” while 22 media workers faced 66 years in prison in total for “resisting law

During the three-month period covered by the report, out of 247 journalists 46 faced aggravated life and one life sentence, with all facing 3,023 years, 10 months in total and a total fine of 30,000 Turkish lira. Cases filed against journalists on charges of “insult” and “insulting the president” are not included in the statistics

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 237 journalists and media workers were in jail as of October 7, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 169 were under arrest pending trial while only 68 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 148 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

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