Journalists face 158 years in prison over book about Erdoğan’s obstruction of justice: report

Turkish journalists Barış Terkoğlu and Barış Pehlivan, who co-authored a book investigating alleged obstruction of justice by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in high-profile court cases, face 95 and 63 years in prison, respectively, Turkish Minute reported on Thursday, citing the Odatv news website.

Odatv’s Chief Editor Pehlivan and News Director Terkoğlu co-authored the book, titled “Metastaz 2: Cendere” (Metastasis 2: Mangle), which delves into allegations of obstruction of justice involving two of Erdoğan’s lawyers and a public prosecutor working in the southern city of Antalya, who are plaintiffs in the 14 court cases faced by the two journalists. Pehlivan and Terkoğlu gave testimony on Tuesday in all the cases. 

The Odatv report did not specify the charges leveled against the two journalists.

Mustafa Doğan İnal and Ahmet Özel, Erdoğan’s lawyers, were previously accused by Pehlivan of acting as “shadow ministers of justice.” İnal and Özel, also representing businessman Fettah Tamince, who faced charges of embezzlement and membership in a terrorist organization, intervened to get the charges against Tamince dropped, Terkoğlu and Pehlivan claimed in their book.

Terkoğlu and Pehlivan also face prison sentences in a separate case on charges of “disclosing information related to national security” and “disclosing documents pertaining to intelligence operations.” 

They published reports and tweeted about the secretly held funeral of an agent of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) killed during a mission in Libya, where rival factions are vying for control of the war-torn country. Turkey backs the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), which had been fighting against the Libyan National Army (LNA) until a recent ceasefire, and has been accused by European powers of escalating the conflict with military aid and the transfer of foreign fighters to Libyan soil.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) described Turkey as “the world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists” in its 2020 World Press Freedom Index, in which Turkey was ranked 154th among 180 countries in terms of press freedom.

According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom’s “Jailed and Wanted Journalists in Turkey” database, 174 journalists are currently behind bars in Turkey, while 167 are wanted and are either in exile or remain at large.

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