Indictment levels terror charges at Turkish journalist who investigated coup attempt

An indictment drafted by an İstanbul prosecutor for Ece Sevim Öztürk, an investigative journalist who has been behind bars since June, accuses the journalist of aiding a terrorist organization and disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization, the Hürriyet daily reported on Wednesday.

Öztürk, the editor-in-chief of the Çağdaş Ses news website, was detained on June 8 and arrested on June 20 shortly after the release of a documentary she shot about a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. The documentary was titled, “The darkest day of the naval forces.”

The indictment has been accepted by the İstanbul 37th High Criminal Court.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the failed putsch or any terrorist activity.

Prosecutors allege in the indictment that Öztürk attempted to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the general and presidential elections held in Turkey on June 24 before and after the elections, tried to create social chaos in a bid to reinvigorate the Gülen movement and made efforts to save its jailed members from prison.

More than 50,000 people have been jailed in Turkey due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement in the aftermath of the coup attempt in a massive crackdown conducted by the Turkish government.

The indictment says that under the pretext of journalism, Öztürk posted messages on social media about the coup attempt and the coup trials to create a public perception in favor of the coup plotters.

Öztürk’s reporting on the coup attracted much attention on social media and was quoted by several news outlets in Turkey.

The first hearing in Öztürk’s trial is scheduled for Nov. 1.

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 August 15, 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 145 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. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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