Turkey’s appeals court upholds journalist Hasan Cemal’s sentences

A Turkish appeals court has upheld a prison sentence and punitive fine for veteran Journalist Hasan Cemal, while reversing a lower court decision acquitting Cemal of disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Friday.

According to the report the court of appeals has upheld a suspended one year, three months sentence for Cemal handed down by the Istanbul 22nd High Criminal Court. Cemal is accused of disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization in an article that appeared on a news website.

The court also upheld the imposition of a TL 6,000 fine for serving as “editor-in-chief on duty” for the pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem daily by the same criminal court. Özgür Gündem, along with 14 other media outlets, was shut down by a government decree on issued on Oct. 29, 2016.

The appeals court ruled to reverse a decision on the acquittal of journalist Cemal in a case where he was accused of disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization.
Cemal was well known among critical journalists in Turkey.

Turkey was 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.

Journalists Mehmet Gündem, Nuh Gönültaş and Behram Kılıç were arrested by an İstanbul court on Tuesday on charges of links to the faith-based Gülen movement.

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.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 255 journalists and media workers are in jails as of November 8, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 230 are arrested pending trial, only 25 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 135 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt. (turkishminute.com)

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