Turkish court postpones 46 Kurdish journalists’ trial until September

A Turkish court on Friday postponed until September the trial of 46 Kurdish journalists, known to the public as the “KCK Press Trial,” while ruling to keep in place an international travel ban for the defendants.

The 14th hearing of the trial was held at the İstanbul 3rd High Criminal Court. KCK is an acronym for the outlawed Kurdistan Communities Union, an umbrella organization that encompasses the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

According to a report by the pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF), the court dismissed the request for removal of the travel ban imposed on the 46 journalists, citing Article 5 of Decree Law No. 667. The trial was postponed to September 7.

The lawyers acknowledged the rejection of their request to lift the travel ban imposed on their clients but reminded the court that in similar cases the ban was lifted once the defence procedures had been completed. In response, presiding judge Hakan Türkön said, “That means no one knows about Decree-Law 667.”

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Wednesday. If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 257 journalists and media workers were in jail as of April 25, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 198 were under arrest pending trial while only 59 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 141 journalists who are living 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 about 200 media outlets after a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

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