Turkey jails 3 more journalists on terrorism charges

Journalists Ozan Kaplanoğlu (R), Meşale Tolu (above) and Ulaş Sezgin have been arrested and jailed on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda and membership in an armed terrorist organization.

Despite calls from international media organizations to release jailed journalists in Turkey, three more Turkish journalists have been arrested and jailed on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda and membership in an armed terrorist organization, the T24 news portal reported on Friday.

Ozan Kaplanoğlu, editor of the online platform @BursaMuhalif, was arrested by a Bursa court late on Friday on charges of disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization.”

Meşale Tolu and Ulaş Sezgin, reporters from the Etkin News Agency, have also been arrested in İstanbul on similar charges.

They were detained by police a day before May Day celebrations and sent to pretrial detention by a court after spending six days in custody.

Mehmet Güleş, a reporter for the Dicle New Agency, which was closed by the government following a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, was sentenced by a court in Elazığ province on Wednesday to nine years, four months and 15 days in prison for alleged membership in a terrorist organization and disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization.

Ayşenur Parıldak, a former reporter from the now-closed Zaman daily who is among dozens of journalists jailed after a failed military coup attempt in Turkey, was released early on Tuesday but was rearrested by the same court before being freed after a prosecutor objected to the initial ruling.

In a similar case on April 1, the İstanbul 25th High Criminal Court had again arrested 21 out of 26 journalists who were accused of membership in the faith-based Gülen movement, which has been designated as a terrorist organization by the Turkish government and accused of orchestrating a failed coup last summer, despite the fact that the same court had ruled for their release a day earlier.

The decisions came as international organizations waged campaigns to show solidarity with jailed journalists in Turkey on May 3, World Press Freedom Day.

Amnesty International on Tuesday night projected the names of imprisoned Turkish journalists onto the facade of the Turkish Embassy in The Hague. AI also launched a campaign on Twitter late in March to support jailed journalists in Turkey, calling for their release, with the hashtag #FreeTurkeyMedia.

Turkey is ranked 155th among 180 countries in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on April 26. If Turkey falls four more ranks, it will make it to the list of the countries on the blacklist, which has the poorest records in press freedom.

The US-based Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world, has named Turkey as among the countries that have a “not free” press, in a report released on April 28. According to Freedom of the Press 2017, the Turkish government, using enhanced powers under a state of emergency, carried out a massive purge of media outlets accused of links to an attempted military coup in July 15, 2016.

Turkey stands out from the crowd by a distant margin by holding a record number of 235 journalists and media workers behind bars, breaking an all time world record. More than half of the journalists who are in prison around the world are now located in Turkey, a member of the Council of Europe (CoE) and a candidate member for the European Union (EU).

Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has documented that 235 journalists are now in jails, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 214 are arrested pending trial, only 21 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons.  An outstanding detention warrants remain for 103 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey. Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the coup attempt. (turkeypurge.com) May 6, 2017

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