Prosecution demands jail terms for journalists over reporting on Turkish black op in Libya: report

İstanbul's Çağlayan Courthouse.

A prosecutor has demanded sentences ranging from eight to 19 years for journalists over their reports on a Turkish intelligence officer killed in Libya, Turkish Minute reported on Tuesday, citing the Diken news website.

Barış Terkoğlu, Aydın Keser, Ferhat Çelik, Eren Ekinci, Erk Acarer, Hülya Kılınç, Barış Pehlivan and Murat Ağırel face jail sentences 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 vie 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.

During the first hearing on June 24, the court released pending trial Terkoğlu, Çelik and Keser, who had been in jail since early March.

Pehlivan and Kılınç from the OdaTV news website and Ağırel from the Sözcü daily have been imprisoned for six months.

Acarer is out of the country and is being tried in absentia.

Eren Ekinci, a municipal worker in the western Turkish town of Akhisar, is accused of supplying pictures to the journalists of the funeral of the deceased intelligence officer.

According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom’s “Jailed and Wanted Journalists in Turkey” list, there are currently 178 journalists behind bars, and 168 journalists are wanted by Turkish authorities.

According to the CPJ, Turkey is one of the world’s worst jailers of journalists together with China, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. In a December 2019 report CPJ said Turkey has “stamped out virtually all independent reporting.”

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