Turkish court gives pro-Kurdish news editor suspended sentence on terrorism charges

Pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency editor Mehmet Ali Ertaş

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency editor Mehmet Ali Ertaş was handed down a 15-month suspended sentence on terrorism charges on Friday, according to local media. A Diyarbakır court convicted Ertaş of insulting the government and disseminating propaganda on behalf of a terrorist group.

The court said Ertaş was convicted because he described a 2015 bombing in Ankara as a “massacre” on his social media accounts.

One hundred two people were killed and more than 400 were injured on Oct.10, 2015 when two Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) suicide bombers blew themselves up outside Ankara’s central train station during a demonstration calling for peace in the country. The bombing was the most serious terrorist attack in the history of the Turkish Republic.

Meanwhile, Diyarbakır Chief Prosecutor’s Office has demanded 39-year prison sentence for three pro-Kurdish journalists for their reports about clashes between the Turkish security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in İdil district of Şırnak province.

According to a report by pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency on Saturday, 22 months after their detention, the prosecutor has released the indictment against journalists Ferzen Çatak, Mahmut Ruvanas and Kadri Esen. The prosecutor’s office demanded a total of 39-year prison sentence for all three.

Çatak, Ruvanas and Esen were working for no-closed pro-Kurdish Dicle news agency in İdil during Turkish security forces’s operations against PKK militants. The report said the journalists reported human rights violations by the Turkish security forces, served images and videos of the destruction in İdil.

The indictment accuses Çatak of “making terrorist propaganda” and “being a member of a terrorist organization while it accuses Ruvanas and Esen of propaganda. The accusations are supported by the testimony of a secret witness.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 248 journalists and media workers are in jails as of December 19, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 221 are arrested pending trial, only 27 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 139 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. (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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