Journalist convicted for covering press statement against Turkish military incursion in northern Syria

Turkish journalist Ozan Kaplanoğlu was sentenced to one year, 10 months and 15 days in prison on Thursday on terrorism-related charges for covering a press statement against a Turkish military incursion in Afrin, Syria, the Bianet news website reported.

Kaplanoğlu is the editor of Bursamuhalif.com, a local news website in the western city of Bursa. He reported on a gathering of representatives of political parties and civil society groups on June 30, 2018 to protest Turkey’s military incursion in Afrin. A press statement titled “This is not our war!” was read out by Hasan Özaydın, the Bursa provincial chair of the left-wing Labor Party (EMEP).

Kaplanoğlu was detained for five days and released pending trial. He was convicted on a charge of disseminating terrorist propaganda. Özaydın was acquitted of the charges.

“It is not a crime to defend peace or people’s right to information,” Kaplanoğlu said, “As decent journalists we will continue to tell the truth to people and be the voice of the oppressed.”

Turkey is one of the world’s biggest jailers of professional journalists and ranked 153rd among 180 countries in terms of press freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom’s “Jailed and Wanted Journalists in Turkey” database, 172 journalists are behind bars in Turkey and 167 are wanted and either in exile or at large.

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