Journalists Müyesser Yıldız and İsmail Dükel face up to 31 years, 6 months in prison

İsmail Dükel (L) and Müyesser Yıldız

A Turkish prosecutor is seeking a jail sentence of up to 31-and-a-half years for journalists Müyesser Yıldız, Ankara news director of the ultranationalist OdaTV news website, and İsmail Dükel, Ankara representative for broadcaster TELE1, on charges of revealing state secrets, Turkish media reported.

Journalists Yıldız and Dükel were accused by the prosecutor during a trial at the Ankara 26th High Criminal Court of disclosing confidential information relating to the security and political interests of the state. The court set the next hearing for March 8, 2021.

Yıldız and Dükel were taken into custody on June 8, 2020, and three days later Yıldız was arrested while Dükel was released under judicial supervision by the court.

Yıldız was released at the first hearing on November 9.

Yıldız is widely known for her back-channel sourcing of news on military affairs and reported extensively on a 2016 coup attempt. Her reports, in some cases, disputed the government narrative on the abortive putsch.

OdaTV, an online news outlet, has been critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government. Turkey ranks among the top jailers of journalists across the world.

Turkey experienced a military coup attempt on the night of July 15, 2016 which, according to many, was a false flag aimed at entrenching Erdoğan’s authoritarian rule by rooting out dissidents and eliminating powerful actors such as the military in his desire for absolute power.

In December, a Turkish court handed down a prison sentence of 27 years, six months to exiled journalist Can Dündar in a trial concerning a news report on National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks transporting arms to rebels in Syria.

Dündar, who left Turkey in 2016 to avoid a government crackdown on critical journalists, was retried by the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court after the country’s top appeals court overturned a previous sentence of five years, 10 months given to the journalist.

According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom’s “Jailed and Wanted Journalists in Turkey” database, 175 Turkish journalists are behind bars and 167 are wanted and either in exile or at large.

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