Turkish court sentences 2 Kurdish media workers to 3 years in prison each

A Turkish court in the southern province of Adana on Friday sentenced two Kurdish media workers to three years in prison each.

According to a report by the pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF), the trial of Murat Karakaş and Leyla Yıldız, distributors of the Özgür Toplum (Free Society) magazine and the Özgürlükçü Demokrasi (Libertarian Democracy) newspaper, was held at the Adana 13th High Criminal Court on Friday.

While the journalists did not attend the hearing, they were represented by lawyer Tugay Bek, who denied the accusations of “aiding and abetting a terrorist organisation,” stating that the work of his clients did not constitute a crime.

Although the lawyer demanded the acquittal of Karakaş and Yıldız, the court sentenced them to three years in prison each.

Meanwhile, seven people were detained during a “social media operation” launched in İzmir province on Friday. Counterterrorism teams from the İzmir Provincial Gendarmerie Command carried out operations against people who allegedly “shared posts promoting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK]” on their social media accounts.

The seven people were detained in raids on nine locations in the Menemen, Seferihisar, Aliağa and Selçuk districts of İzmir during which notebooks, magazines, newspapers and some clothes were seized.

The Turkish Interior Ministry had announced that legal action had been taken against 169 people due to their social media posts between February 26 and March 5. In a statement on February 26, the ministry had also said that 845 people who criticized a Turkish military operation in the Afrin region of northern Syria on social media and attended demonstrations critical of it were taken into custody.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 248 journalists and media workers were in jail as of March 9, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 193 were under arrest pending trial while only 55 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 139 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 more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.

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